The Staves are a sisterly trio crafting indelible indie pop, and 'Blood I Bled' is but a teaser of what's to come -- this three-song EP shows the band preparing for their next record, which follows up 2012's 'Dead & Born & Grown'. Things really do seem to come in threes for this band, which is a pretty cool gimmick. Title track "Blood I Bled" is a hushed ukelele jam that explodes with a commanding voice, old-school riffs by the way of the Decemberists and newer Fleet Foxes, and some good old trumpet.
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Here's a folk rock record with nuts and bolts. Along with the spectacular, totally expected guitar picking is an electronic crackle that configures "Open". Programmed drums bubble underneath the several-part vocal harmonies the song is won by, as if you have to type a code into the machine to get the most beautiful results. Really, though, the Staves' organic folk motivations stay on top -- they're too in love with the tree-climbing, heart-broken sounds of Fleet Foxes, First Aid Kit and Fairport Convention to get a computer and a Twitter account. Those early electronic hints are just a way of showing how precisely and commanding the Staves are with their music; this isn't one of those thrown off folk rock gimmicks.
This is one of those dramatic, journeyed acoustic records that can explode into something outlandish, unleashing folklore as if it's real life warfare: the EP's title track wavers delicately and patiently for as long as it can before erupting sideways, calling on thrashing percussion that recalls the Fleet Foxes' "Battery Kinzie", and an arsenal of warming sounds -- strings, electric guitars and those always sympathetic harmonies. The record's final track, the definitive Big Finish that is "America", wants you to hear every little detail: the guitar slides, every articulated vocal, and the spectral harp chords that send the record up to heaven from the woods. 'Blood I Bled' is pastoral as fuck, but also quite sacred. It's almost too well made for what it is; I don't know if you can arrange a record with this much attention to detail from the cottage on the hill.
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- Blood I Bled by The Staves
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