review by Ilenia Pezzaniti
We can all agree speed bumps suck. They come out of nowhere and void any chance of slowing down in time. Quick bursts of “fuck” or “oooouuu” cue cringe-face as you tense up your whole body on impact.
It’s clear by their consistent sound that the Akron/Kent-based band, The Speedbumps, was not going for this shock and relief approach. Rather, it seems, they hoped their message would serve as a reminder to slow down. (Or who knows, maybe they view life as a series of warnings. I have no idea—and I’m not gonna Google it!)
I sat and stared at the title of their new album, “Soil to the Seed,” for what it might reveal.
prolific. perfect for spring time. entered in spring time. spring equinox last month growth. what we need for growth. time. nourishment. what is soil to the seed? what does soil mean to the seed? what does the seed do in return? there is no choice but to grow with the food from the soil unless you never till or water. variables. elements.
These half-thoughts were attempts at clarifying what I might be getting myself into. Whether an album name is a clue to content, boxed nostalgia, or random clicks between our tongues, its title duties can become undervalued but ever so important.
I listened to this album twice, for good measure. Ideas organically evolve when you’re just feeling your way through.
Imagine watching an indie film. It’s painting a view of a sunny day, clipping lens flare, taking you above lush farmlands. That’s how the album opens with “Strikes and Gutters.” (Admittedly, I find most of the track titles trite and cheesy, like “Just Need Your Love” and “Flower Among the Weeds.”) The Speedbumps know how to play some instruments—and “darn well” doesn’t even come close to describing their ethereal abilities.
Their roots-driven love for hollow-bodied instruments continues to distinguish this band. While still taking notes from Mumford and Sons, The Speedbumps manage to keep their authentic feel, ranging from smooth, easygoing melodies to enjoyable organized chaos.
Lyrically, “Soil to the Seed” is not a masterpiece—compared to the thought-provoking poetry of older albums, the lyrics here seem uninvolved and simple—but the words do provide a relationship between songwriter and listener, breaking down relatable feelings in a way that a pop teen can understand.
Eric Urycki’s soothing, sorrowful voice almost always makes you comfortable and at home, while Abby Luri’s celestial harmonies add sweet, hometown roots, a depth and quality you’d be robbed of if she were not involved.
Cellist and mandolinist Sam Kristoff and upright bassist Kevin Martinez set the distinct sound of songs like “Old Habits Don’t Break Easy,” exchanging interceptions and handoffs with percussionists and drummers Pat Hawkins and Danny Jenkins. Hawkins and Jenkins splash deep, warm, puddles of toe-tapping goodness every time the pedal snaps the bass drum. In addition, Urycki’s clean guitar picking and Luri’s spurts of banjo in songs like “Got You Figured Out” provide that bluegrass dance-in-your-bare-feet feel.
Recorded in a remote cabin in Pennsylvania, this Kickstarter success—chockfull of bluegrass picking, pop lyrics, indie strings and deep percussions—may be better appreciated the more you listen, providing head-bopping beats and choruses to which you can thoughtlessly sing-along. “Soil to the Seed” was made for wading through a warm summer day, its songs destined to get stuck in your head without your say.
“Soil to the Seed” comes out May 5.