Avalanche City - Our New Life Above The Ground
It’s a great story this… musician Dave Baxter, just like another famous Dave (Grohl), records an entire album by himself, said album goes viral, gets picked up by a Big Record Company, gets top ten hit.
That Hit, 'Love Love Love' kicks off the album, and is a clear statement of intent, really, a mid tempo sort-of-acoustic number with a big, catchy, feel-good chorus. Much is made in the various press statements about Baxter’s teaching himself how to sing as Avalanche City evolved, and it needs to be said that his voice is certainly central to the appeal of this collection. It has a blend of warmth and fragility that is “just so” and added to the melodic strength in his songwriting, it makes for real potency.
Elsewhere, the aspect that really lifts this album is the arrangements, which are excellent. Everywhere you listen there are little details waiting for you-a touch of glockenspiel here, marimba there, could that be a banjo there? And backing vocals are handled with real skill and aplomb. The instrumentations
Remain ‘organic’ but here is an arranger not afraid to blend in slightly more electronic textures to great effect- the drifting backing harmonic part on The Citizens adds so much poignancy to a down-tempo feel, for example. Things don’t really get too electric, however, and this does emphasize somewhat of a more Celtic/country feel.
A great deal of musical thought has gone onto this collection of songs, and this makes for the kind of experience that rewards both a cursory and in depth listen. At times the did-it-myself approach does start to stretch its limits, but this does as much to point out where the sound may go in the future, really, rather than exposing any weaknesses.
Review by trevf
The story of Avalanche City begins in a house, alone, for hours and hours each day for months, slowly learning how to sing by process of scales, recording, and self critique.
Six months after taking the first steps towards singing, Dave Baxter played his first solo show as Avalanche City. Six months after the first show, one year after beginning the process of teaching himself how to sing, the first tracks were laid for Avalanche City's debut album Our New Life Above The Ground.
Armed with a sack full of vegetarian single serve curries Dave Baxter headed into the countryside and moved into a little community hall called the Kourawhero Hall, just north of Auckland. There he spent the week alone recording and playing everything himself with only the cows and the milk trucks as company.