New Haven-based No Line North declares its intentions from the first second of “Begin Where It Ends Today,” the first track on Farther Out Beyond Today, as it marries garage-band guitars, mellow vocals, and swooping violin for a genre-bending outpouring of conflicted but wholly genuine feeling.
Likewise, on “Up From Underneath,” the band — Jon Schlesinger on vocals, guitar, banjo, and lap steel, John Gage on drums and vibraphone, John Leonard on bass, guitar, and vocals, and Taralyn Bulyk on violin and percussion — is totally living out its favorite rocker fantasies. You can see Schlesinger leaning in to kiss the mic, a jovial spray of saliva glistening through the dark, smoky air. But, following groups like Camper Van Beethoven and Built to Spill, the tracks speak to the group’s influences in rock, folk, Americana, and beyond.
The Peradams fanatic, or the Belle and Sebastian enthusiast looking for a little less twee, will also find a lot to like. The amped-up forceful opening of “Fallow Fields” is interrupted unexpectedly by a violin and drumbeat refreshingly redolent of Hold Your Horses “70 Million” that propels the song through musical stretches of jammy ebullience, anchored by Schlesinger’s unruffled, warm voice. On “Missing Piece,” Schlesinger’s violin-backed crooning “There you go, run away / Give yourself to the rain / Where you weave through white and black / Push you on and never hold you back” is filled with a profound melancholy. And then there are the stellar, hassle-free arrangements on “Narrows” and the irresistibly folksy, loping “Borrowed Time,” with its aural orgy of trumpet, violin, and piano.
Yet Farther Out Beyond Today is not the kind of album you need to dedicate everything to listening to, and thank goodness. It’s warm, unpretentious music you want to dance to, or hang with while catching up with old friends on someone’s double-used couch until three in the morning. Or slip into your stereo as you take a long drive in the middle of the night that could lead just about anywhere.
“This is the culmination of the band really becoming a family over the past few years and this is our first ‘child’ if you will,” Schlesinger wrote to the Independent. “We are all very proud of it and it is our ‘official’ introduction and calling card.” The band is “hoping to get out and play locally on a more regular basis and grace many a festival stage in 2015.” It is also “woodshedding a whole batch of new material and will be releasing singles, an EP, or possibly a new album” this year.
“We are aiming for the big time,” Schlesinger added. “Hold on tight.”
Farther Out Beyond Today is available for purchase and download at Bandcamp.