Ernest Jenning Record Co.
On the question of fate, I try to have my cake and eat it too. I don’t think, for example, that families migrating to our southern border were predestined to be separated and incarcerated there, but I do believe I found my one true soulmate. And I love books and movies that don’t accept the concept of coincidence (Signs is a great film, dammit!). So while listening to the patient meditations of Animal Hides, the third LP from the indie-folk duo Blood Warrior, I couldn’t help but dwell on one aspect of its origin that felt, well, meant. After recording the album at his Hudson Valley studio with his bandmate, Portland singer/songwriter Greg Jamie, Joey Weiss was preparing to mix it when his console caught fire. Enter indie-rock vet Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate, The Walkmen). McMahon mixed the album at his studio in nearby New Paltz, giving Weiss and Jamie’s sound a new depth and resonance without losing any of its gentle, mannered intimacy. The opening song, “Golden Days,” finds them on an early Leonard Cohen trip, its mournful acoustic strumming washing over us like beautiful, indifferent waves. “Life of Uncertainty” begins as a lo-fi, four-track confessional reflective of Jamie’s solo work, but that’s a misdirect. A minute in, the song transforms into a stereo production, with piano chords and huge, haunted oooohs behind the narrator’s humble pleas. “It’s a collection of songs affected by the anxieties and securities of these times,” the duo says, yet there are gorgeous nuances like this all over the record, making Animal Hides one of the straight-up prettiest albums I’ve reviewed this year. As it was destined to be.
Blood Warrior plays an album-release show, with opener Friendship, at the Apohadion Theater on Nov. 17.