Release Date: Jan 28, 2014
Record label: Mexican Summer
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Quilt's version of psychedelic pop, which nodded to the sound's '60s heyday with jangly guitars, intricate harmonies, and gently rambling songs, was already pretty fully realized on their self-titled debut. Their second album, Held in Splendor, feels like both a continuation and a dramatic evolution from their early days. Shane Butler, Anna Fox Rochinski, and John Andrews bring more form and focus to their trips; that they were able to record these songs in an intense set of sessions, instead of over the course of a year like they did with their debut, only helps their coherence.
Boston’s Quilt checked into a Brooklyn studio to combine hipster flavour with dreamy psychedelia, and have come up with a record that brings a crisp newness to arrangements straight out of 1967. So there’s a lot of Love here – and Zombies and Buffalo Springfield too – but ‘Held In Splendor’ also joins Tame Impala’s ‘Lonerism’ and even Connan Mockasin’s ‘Caramel’ at a strange place where psych-rock sounds pioneering and fresh. This is all helped by the virtuosity of tracks like ‘Mary Mountain’, where surf guitar meets motorik trance, and ‘A Mirror’, with its thrash-along fuzziness.
It turns out spending 60 hours in a basement recording your second LP can be a pretty good use of one’s time. With Hope in Splendor, Boston trio Quilt’s second record, visual arts students Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler, and John Andrews rejuvenated their version of psychedelic 1960s pop, this time focusing on warm harmonies and new instrumentation. The result is an album that will take you on an uplifting journey, not dissimilar to the undulations of a (orange shag) magic carpet ride.
Held in Splendor is not an album with clear highs and lows. There are no obvious standout songs around which the others were hobbled together. Rather, it is a rounded, interconnected cohesion of atmospheric Americana. Founding members Shane Butler and Anna Rochinski, who met in art school, constructed the album as a continuous dream, one characterized by patient, long form instrumental jams ("Mary Mountain"), cascading guy-and-girl folk harmonies ("Eye of the Pearl") and engrossing Dark Side of the Moon guitar work ("Saturday Bride").
Quilt's sophomore album finds the Boston three-piece on the surer footing only time and touring imbue in a band. Their indie-folk debut was recorded on the fly over a year, in friends' studios with gaps between sessions; for Held in Splendor, the band logged one solid run with producer (and Woods member) Jarvis Taveniere, and the results are tighter. They've compiled a hard-rocking collection of songs, and their cues seem taken from a wider range of '60s styles.
For a young rock band in the 60s, the opportunity to make a second LP usually meant getting trippier and more ambitious. And so it goes for Quilt, a young rock band influenced by young rock bands from the 60s. On the Massachusetts trio’s 2011 self-titled debut, the ghosts of the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, and Mamas and the Papas were summoned via jangly, well-written pop songs that never strayed far from their harmony-rich melodies.
Boston trio Quilt are a band who place more value than most on the music of the late 1960s, a time when progressive musicians were faced with an endless vista of creative possibilities. It must have been a slight problem for the band then that, due to budgetary issues and a lack of time to really hone their craft, they could not fully realise their updating of languorous psych rock on their self-titled 2011 debut album. Hardened by two years of constant touring and finally being able to record in a proper studio within the Brooklyn offices of their label Mexican Summer, the group have been able to finely cultivate their second album Held In Splendor.
The thank-yous on the sleeve of Quilt's second album include not just the usual family and friends, but also a list of nature-related influences, from blizzards to mountains to "the stars in New Hampshire". The Boston psych-folk trio's music is redolent of those things – this is an album that defies you to believe it was made in a Brooklyn studio. Their patchwork sound is comprised of languid pastoral harmonies (especially lissome on Eye of the Pearl), Incredible String Band-like patchouli-drone (check The World is Flat, which flicks from lulling psychedelia to hotel-lounge jazz halfway through) and lysergic reverb that hints that Tame Impala may have been an inspiration (I Sleep in Nature).
Boston trio Quilt first came together a few years ago while attending art school, where they tooled around in jam sessions and exchanged mixtapes ranging from deep catalog cuts of classic rock staples like The Beatles and Grateful Dead to further left field material like 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, both anchors of original psych rock label International Artists. They are, like so many groups that share similar backstories of band potlucking, a curious and one-of-a-kind amalgam of these influences — each one a little square patch in their proud grid that blankets impressive historical and sonic range. On their sophomore LP and new career peak, Held in Splendor, they throw it all on display as cleanly and adeptly as ever — on top of all the traces of every band that fed into this composite sound, still leaving room for a little more of themselves.
The members of Quilt have done their homework with regard to the touchstones of ’60s psych folk: a 12-string guitar chimes in a few places; they harmonize tightly a la the Byrds on a regular basis; and a languid quality pervades their sophomore release, even on the faster tracks. The thing is, the trio doesn’t merely replicate the musical template. Their songs have a tendency to head off into different ideas once the verse-chorus pattern has been established.
Quilt — Held in Splendor (Mexican Summer)When writing about the quietly psychedelic, it’s easy to start encountering types: the band that sounds like they could be a lost classic from 1973; the lost classic from 1973 that sounds like it could have been made yesterday. Held in Splendor, second album from the Massachusetts trio Quilt, runs up against a few of these ledes.There’s a properness to their precision, and some unabashedly transcendental lyrics ready to be crooned. And, yes, let’s get it out of the way: this is a specifically blissed-out brand of psychedelia, abounding with vocal harmonies and lush melodies.