1. Land Falls (2)
  2. Postcards from the Arctic (1)
  3. From Now to OK (1)

Land Falls

1. Select Magazine, 1991

[supplied by Chieko Hashimoto]

Springhouse sound like three guys weaned on American college radio fixated on Boston-based guitar bands, J Mascis and Husker Du's 'Candy Apple Grey'.

They're depressed as hell, but hide it in a rich guitar sound called "murky" by the sad, and "murky with hopeful sounding vocals" by optimists.

Singer Mitch Friedland sounds like Julian Cope in a good mood, but then he wouldn't sound out of place singing with Buffalo Tom or Lemonheads. Maybe they were just locked in a room with guitar, drums and bass and told to come out sounding cool. Whatever, Springhouse sound fine on the first listen and even better on subsequent ones.

The music is dense, at times brooding, but the singing is uplifting, though Friedland's enunciation is only slightly less mumbled than Michael Stipe's used to be. They are not slaves to any particular rhythm, alternating between bass-led, punky, funky fast ones and slower wall-of-guitar and synth sound jobs.

The dark ones work best - songs like 'Alone' and the fuzzy dream-scape 'Landslide', and the plight of New York City's homeless gets an airing in the chilling 'Eskimo'.

- Michele Kirsch

2. Rockpool Magazine (U.S. TRADE), 1991

[supplied by Chieko Hashimoto]

You may be wondering where tradition has gone in the wake of fast sampling, dirge-dance and hip-hopped rhythms. Well, look no further than Land Falls, a debut of worth, power and stature from a band imbuing the same characteristics. What's so refreshing about the record is the ability this band has in making you believe that you can still be moved by a three-piece ensemble that focuses mostly on clear vocals and catchy songwriting without the '90s technical trappings.

Consisting of frontman Mitch Friedland, drummer Jack Rabid, and bassist Larry Heinemann, the band reminds me of the earnest, emotionally motivated approach such bands as The Damned (with Captain Sensible), The Chills, and even such old faves as Sad Lovers and Giants took during the last decade. There's even a hint of Creation-esque stylings on the album, a credit to clean production and good musicianship.

The record is full of gems, with Friedland's clear voice a beacon of hope in a sea of rough water. The dreamy bloat of "Landslide" gives way to the beautiful musings of "Alone" (the album's killer) and the pop-beats of "Eyesore". But what's even more appealing is the variety of stylings the band has adopted for this debut, tackling everything from the fast-paced bleatings of "The Sound" to the crying, pleading whispers of "A ha". Every debut should be this motivated, earnest, and clean. (114 West 26th St., NYC 10001)

Postcards from the Arctic

1. CREEM, June 1993

[supplied by Chieko Hashimoto]

A Postcard from Holtje

From the "Menagerie Keeper"/"Soul Astray" 7-inch on the Singles Only Label to three releases on Caroline Records - the 1991 debut album Land Falls, the Eskimo EP, and the current release Postcards from the Arctic - every Springhouse release is chock-full of power and beauty and hooks. Guitarist and main vocalist Mitch Friedland constructs a shimmering wall of plectral tintinnabulation by running acoustic guitars through effects boxes and then sings over it in the prototypical voice of yearning and understated angst.

Though the melodies and their interaction with the instruments aren't poppy in a mainstream way, they nonetheless stick in the memory in a way slightly reminiscent of R.E.M., with the occasional lush harmony thrown in. Underpinning his work are the sophisticatedly punky drumming of sometime vocalist Mr. Rabid (who once upon a time played with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth in the punk band Even Worse) and the elastic bass of Larry Heinemann (a key member of the band behind the performance artists Blue Man Group), who on record also adds guitars, mandolin, and Chapman Stick.

Springhouse's sound reflects the interest of Friedland and Rabid in the current British guitar band scene (My Bloody Valentine, Ride, etc.) and earlier English groundbreakers. In fact, Springhouse's first album could be simplistically described as the Chameleons' guitars and vocals crossed with the Buzzcocks' rhythm foundation, although the result sounds unlike either of those classic bands. But the guys' influences are far broader than that (the only cover they've released, the Saints' "Angels" as sung by Rabid, is on the Eskimo EP). Rabid's tastes alone include early Bee Gees, Billy Bragg, seminal Seattle punks the Wipers, Husker Du, and many more, including, of course, The Beatles. On the new record, perfect production touches, such as the violin countermelody on "Worthless," set Springhouse apart from most of its peers and make the album more varied-sounding than its predecessor. This is a band that's released 26 songs and not one has been a dud - Springhouse never disappoints and usually elates.

-Steve Holtje

From Now to OK

1. Power of Pop (blog), 2008-10-05

"From Here To OK will definitely be one of Power of Popís albums of the year..."

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