Videos by American Songwriter
Pearly Gate Music
Pearly Gate Music
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Whether unknowingly or intentionally, Zach Tillman, the driving force behind Pearly Gate Music, chose a very appropriate band name. His music has a soft, otherworldly quality which is typically countered by earthy elements, giving his music the feeling that though it might be on the brink of heaven, there remains one foot firmly planted in the here and now.
If you think Zach Tillman’s last name rings a bell, it probably does. His brother, Josh Tillman sits in as drummer/harmony master for indie favorites Fleet Foxes, and releases a fair amount of beautifully hushed folk albums of his own. While the brothers Tillman share very similar vocal qualities, Zach’s Pearly Gate Music diverges from the straightforward acoustic ponderings of his brother.
The opener, “Golden Funeral,” is a largely dreamy a cappella affair, with only the slightest hints of backing synthesizer and gentle cymbal tapping, and it serves as a good introduction to Tillman’s approach to vocals. While none of the albums’ other eight tracks are quite as sparse as the opener, Tillman’s alternating gentle croon/ primal howl, with its odd enunciation patterns, is always front and center.
There is an almost manic quality to the juxtaposition of soft and loud sounds. With all of the references to waking/sleeping throughout, it’s as if the album is a collection of lucid dreams, both fevered and peaceful. Just when “I Woke Up” leaves you floating through the clouds, “Gossamer Hair” brings you spiraling furiously to earth with its frenzied psychedelic chorus. The standout “Daddy Wrote You Letters” is an exercise in the sound of Laurel Canyon with its cool, rumbling beat and lazy electric strumming.
While the album mostly consists of the bedroom recordings of one man, it has a polished feel that is largely uncharacteristic of the genre. A great deal of thought has gone into the arrangements- never too bare or overwrought. There really isn’t a bad song among the bunch. Pearly Gate Music should be lauded for a wonderful debut.