I didn’t realize exactly how much I was anticipating this release until I actually listened to it, to be perfectly honest. I heard Seedlings a few years back and thought they were great, but to be honest they kind of slipped under my radar for a while for some reason. I’m not sure if maybe they were just keeping a lower profile, or if I was just oblivious, but I hadn’t caught a lot of their stuff since my initial listen way back in 2009. But they have a sound that I adore and style that I can respect.
Seedlings are a folk-pop outfit from Des Moines. They were started by the brother-sister duo of Danny and Mallory Heggen and feature a lot of other talented musicians from around the city and state, like Ryan Stier of The River Monks and Connor Moore of Bella Verona. In fact, I think there are a lot parallels between the Seedlings and River Monks, so this is a perfect album for fans of theirs. Both are bands focused on harmony and instrumentals and like to use them both to make sweeping and increasingly dramatic, yet often simple songs.
I’ve heard a lot more from Seedlings in the last few months, and I really like it. Their first full length album, Why We Grow Old, is a dynamic example of the sounds they can make and the stories they can tell. Like I said, I didn’t realize how excited I was to listen to this album until it arrived in my inbox, and when I actually clicked on the link to listen, I could feel all my attention being quickly diverted towards the album and my focus was pretty much no where else for a few days. Not a lot of albums can capture my attention right out of the gate like that.
The vocal work on the album is great. The harmonies work really well, but I actually just think they all have really nice voices standing alone, too. Sometimes with folk outfits such as these, the harmony can be nice, but the solo voices don’t really stand out as much. I really like Danny Heggen’s voice, and think that it carries a lot on its own.
But really what stands out the most on this album is the musicianship and songwriting. I think the debut single, “Between Us”, is a perfect example of what they can do and what they are shooting for as far as their sound. It is a beautiful story and a near perfect pop song that would fit in at a coffee shop or really any other sort of mellow establishment where you don’t want to be blow away with music, but just want to smile and tap your foot along with the beat. (There is also a really cool remix of “Between Us” done by Olsen Twinns. I think it is really neat, and puts a different spin on Seedlings.)
But they aren’t always about easily digestible, yet gorgeous pop music. Sometimes they go for the overreaching mulit-instrumental mini-opus where the song begins slowly and then builds and builds to a big dramatic finish. I’m kind of a sucker for that sort of thing, and I think Seedlings pull that off as well as anything. The final track, “We Can Just” is a perfect example of that, beginning with a simple violin solo opening, then a segue into voice and guitar. It all builds together to end the album in a truly epic way.
All together, this album just makes me feel good listening to it, and I think that’s what good pop music should do. It is just so pretty all the time, even when it is fun, that I can’t help but being sucked into the beauty of it all. Why We Grow Old is a near perfect use of beauty, the stories, the voices and the music all coming together to produce something grand and heart-warming.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 7/26 – 8/1
There are a whole bunch of them. So many that I think it would be too numerous to name here. In fact, I wrote a whole other post over at my site just to chronicle some of them. Make sure you go see Heartless Bastards over at Wooly’s, though, that show will be awesome. Here are a few I forgot.
Songwriters Night w/ Jen Allen, Eric Kennedy and more – July 26 House of Bricks
Some great solo songwriters featured at this show and a nice chill environment. This is also hosted and curated by the amazing Thankful Dirt.
The 99ers w/ HOTT and DSM-5 – 7/28 Gas Lamp
Quick and fun rock-punk.
Bear Hands w/ Fort Lean – July 31 Vaudeville Mews 9pm
80/35 alums and brilliant experimental pop-rock. I really liked their set last year and am excited for what an additional year has done for their sound.
Incidentally, this column marks my one year anniversary with Des Moines Is Not Boring, so I figured I would take a second to thank Pete Jones for creating this site and allowing me to ramble here. It has been an absolute blast. Also, thanks to all the people who read and share. Your support has allowed me the opportunity to branch out in ways I never thought possible. So, thanks.