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High Meadows Communion is the best band you don’t yet know
It’s just not a good day unless you learn something new. Today, I learned two new things. The first thing is that I apparently really like folk-rock if it’s done well. The second thing is that High Meadow Communion does folk-rock really, really well.
High Meadows Communion is a five-piece band featuring Noelle Alexander on vocals and guitar, Sam Anderson on piano and backing vocals, Wil Markham on vocals, bass and violin, Austin Sawyer on vocals, electric and acoustic guitar and Daniel Sawyer on drums and assorted percussion.
The first impression from hearing their eponymous debut album is, “Wow, they jell really well, they must have been together for quite a while.” Wrong. The band’s first gig was at the Camphouse last fall.
A band that has only been together this long should not sound so good. Accepting that fact one then assumes, “Well, OK, but the band must have been a long time in the planning stages, the culmination of some serious ambition.”
Wrong. The band was formed on very short notice for a gig that unexpectedly materialized and needed to be filled. A pick-up band should not sound this good. “Fine,” says the voice in your head, “Then they must all be seasoned pros, road dogs who’ve been in the music game for a long time…”
Wrong. They’re young. Really young. Two members are still in high school. Granted, it isn’t entirely unheard of to have a few bandmates still in high school, but they’re usually 19 or 20 and play drums. A band this young definitely should not sound this good.
Perhaps you’re detecting a subtle thread in this monologue: The fact is they are good, so good that I was fairly gobsmacked to find out the details I’ve shared with you so far. Their playing, singing and songwriting are absolutely pro and frankly, I believe they are genuine phenoms, prodigies coming together in the perfect storm of circumstance to create a band that, if they continue doing what they’re doing, will be genuinely famous by the time everyone is old enough to drink legally.
They don’t have any gigs scheduled before next fall. They don’t have any amusing anecdotes from “life in the band,” but what they do have an album. Eight tracks, five dollars at bandcamp.com and it’d be worthwhile if it cost three times as much.
Track one, “The Bees,” is Winham Worthy, a phrase I just invented to describe songs that I feel are stylistically suited to the afternoon show of my old pal Richard Winham on WUTC, a program that has introduced me to some fantastic music over the years.
“Traveler’s Lullaby,” is a slow, bluesy tune that highlights Alexander’s vocal prowess. If she isn’t already a heartbreaker, she will be. “Jericho,” is just a good old “shucks, it’s great to be alive” tune suitable for folk, country, alternative, old-timey or any of a dozen other designations and demonstrates nicely that the fellas can sing pretty damn good too.
“Old Woman by the Sea” is a personal favorite, drawing on the folk tradition of strong women/bitter remembrances and the harmonies are delightful. I swear that in some of these tunes, “Braille Bridges” in particular, there are shades of the Gin Blossoms as well, albeit a sweeter and deeper-rooted version of the Gin Blossoms.
Typically a young band is described as having potential, but in the case of these young people there is a great deal of potential already realized. It’s stunning to contemplate how much further they can go, having come this far already.
They are better by far than half the bands playing around town today, so it behooves some of the bigger singer/songwriters in the area to enlist these kids as a powerful opening act.
Were I in the position to do so, I’d give them a break every chance I could because, friends, as great as they already are, they’re only going to get bigger and better.
Check them out, buy their album, support them however you can because I guarantee they are going to be a big deal before you know it.