Release Date: Mar 29, 2011
Record label: Hometapes
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Thomas Wincek appears to be the type of musician who can never sit still, who is always looking for a new avenue to relay his impulses through. Collections of Colonies of Bees and Volcano Choir are among the bands that keep him busy, and here on All Tiny Creatures' debut full-length he's undertaken the thankless task of finding a group of eight different vocalists to collaborate with the band on certain tracks. Justin Vernon is the closest Wincek gets to finding a constant in his career-- the pair have teamed up in both the aforementioned bands, and Vernon returns here to add a vocal turn to the standout "An Iris".
Starting with a breezy, uptempo song that's part motorik zone, part kicking it on a relaxed afternoon, Harbors finds All Tiny Creatures in engaging mood throughout, letting the music convey most of whatever message Thomas Wincek and his numerous collaborators and bandmates might have. Said message can perhaps best be called pleasure in sound; there's an engaging, almost giddy feeling throughout even when the few direct vocal parts aim for the quietly sung and absorbed. The complex interweaving of such parts on "Cargo Maps" is almost easily missed by the martial drums, cowbell, and bubbling keyboard swirls, for instance, while hearing the soothing sighs underpinning "Breathing Set" and its out-of-the-gate rush of percussion and keyboards adds just the right feeling of elegiac contemplation.
Despite its title, Harbors is an album that sounds land locked. Not in a constricting way at all, but these songs seem to stretch out and bask in the sun—rather than following the stars—drying and hardening into bright swaths of sound. The movement of the album also takes on the path of the sun over the course of a day, from the bright, early-morning burst of the first tracks, to the midday haze of the middle, to the moody dusk that begins to set in as the album closes.
When “Glass Bubbles” and “An Iris” dribbled out onto the internet in advance of All Tiny Creatures’ debut, Harbors, there was reason enough to be excited. They were both catchy as hell and single-ish, the former a layered electro-prog number draped in Ryan Olcott’s (of 12 Rods) shoegazey vocals, the latter relying on a mantra-like incantation courtesy Mr. Bon Iver, a friend and collaborator of bandleader Thomas Wincek.