Typhoon: Hunger and Thirst

Typhoon: Hunger and Thirst
Singer/songwriter Kyle Morton has surrounded himself with a myriad of multi-instrumentalists to record Typhoon‘s latest record, Hunger and Thirst. The Portland, OR collective has made a name for themselves in the area by seemingly taking the road less traveled. They play odd shows that only their friends know about. They are unconcerned with a fan base or with record labels, they really just want to play music. But wooed by Tender Loving Empire, the band finally records a debut record.
Hunger and Thirst is a rustic record. It feels earth and raw but lush at the same time. The band employs instruments such as upright bass, trumpet, trombone, french horn, mellophone, glockenspiel, bells, and violins. But the band’s most standout feature is their vocalist, Kyle Morton. Morton’s vocals are timid. They remind me of Craig Minowa with a little bit David Byrne thrown in. Occassionally, the vocals are so soft that you are just barely aware that they are there. Other times it is apparent that Morton has the kind of voice that could carry a song on its own. The dynamic vocals are just there to add drama to the music.
The music really needs no extra drama. The songwriting reminds me of bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Rock Plaza Central. There is an innate sadness in Morton’s songs. On “White Liars”, he sings “anything I love/someone comes in between/I can’t get it out of my head/ and I let it get to me”. The imagery of someone unsure and haunted by past mistakes seems to be a reoccurring theme in the songs. The unsureness takes another form in the album’s closing song “The Sickness Unto Death”. Morton sings “They say we’re all dying/but if you are dying/why aren’t you scared?/why aren’t you scared like I am scared?”
If the theme sounds depressing, it is. Although about half of the songs are upbeat enough in rhythm and melody that it does not get overwhelming, the other half gets pretty low. Some of the tracks that get slow and plod really weigh heavy. While I’m all for a certain amount of ballads, there is only so many depressing songs one can listen to in a row before feeling their effects. In the end, I think the band shows definite talent but for me it seems a little heavy handed at times.
Rating: 5.3/10
MP3: Typhoon “White Liars”
Buy: iTunes