Reviewed by Dasha Koryagina

The Advocators: Songs From An Endless

Reviewed by Dasha Koryagina

The Advocators: Songs From An Endless

The tiny Northland town of Maungaturoto has a history of producing great folk acts, and The Advocators (Leroy Brown and Mark Bruce), are keeping that tradition alive.

The duo’s debut album, ‘Songs From An Endless Night’, swims comfortably between rebellious outlaw country and atmospheric indie rock. The typical rock band line-up of vocals, guitars, bass and drums is elevated with the addition of twangy banjo, haunting violin and ethereal melodica, blending together into a sound that’s equal parts rebellious and melancholy, and a work that locates somewhere within the alt-country/bluegrass genre.

Their endless night begins with the eerie Intro. A lone blues guitar leisurely speaks in sentences that seem to be in contemplative conversation with each other, an echoing vibrato hanging on the ends of the phrases like unanswered questions. The ominous mood set brings visions of tumble weeds rolling through an empty, desolate landscape somewhere in the southern US.

Intro fades, and the album jumps straight into the fast-paced Elijah, jolting the senses with the tempo change. Featuring energetic jungle beats (courtesy of William Jackson), spastic guitar patterns, twangy banjo, screeching violin (courtesy of Anita Clark) and faltering vocals, Elijah is a honky-tonk number steeped in a sense of madness, despair and nihilistic indifference.

The cover of Townes van Zandt’s Waitin’ Around To Die, is executed in a similar mood of nihilism. Heavier than the original, The Advocators’ version features a sustained walking beat, aggressive guitar playing, sorrowful violin and embittered vocals. The lyrics feature minor deviations from the original, showcasing the band’s ability to inhabit another artist’s song and perform it as feels right to them. Brown barks out the words in a forced yet restrained manner, indicating that beneath the composed front, there is a disillusioned man with a bone to pick with life.

The album is deeply immersed in anger and bitterness. While much of it features heavy-handed, aggressive instrumentation, there are some tracks that have a dreamy, oceanic quality to them. This is particularly apparent on Dreams and Crows on which weeping violins glide over surging bass lines, layers of guitars wash over each other in waves, vocal harmonies create a resonant, deep water echo.

Recorded in a cluttered Northland shed/studio, the album possesses an undeniable blue collar rawness, which plays into the folk vibe nicely. The result is a record that’s just as fit for a loose night at the saloon as it is for a brooding glass of whiskey in isolation.

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