When history buffs and literary admirers hear the phrase “the shot heard ’round the world”, most immediately identify with transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, Concord Hymn. In Emerson’s poem written in 1837, the last line in the first stanza echoed the now infamous quote that referred to the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. When one of Emerson’s descendants discovered his legacy, he did not choose to write a poem, book, or create a documentary film. Instead, he created a band in tribute to his late descendant, naming it The Shot Heard ‘Round the World. The band consists of four musicians, though only Alex Farrill and Tim Bean are credited entirely with the songwriting on their debut album, Ten Songs for Town and Country. Ironically enough, the album is eleven tracks but there are three songs under two minutes. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, they left the bustling city to record Ten Songs for Town and Country in an isolated cabin in rural Vermont. The effect of isolation and rurality certainly shows as well, with the majority of the album containing lo-fi songs that recollects the technologically free days of The Zombies and The Byrds, adding touches of 60s psychedelia, guitar-oriented pop, and lulling vocals. Behind Farrill and Bean, Brian House played bass and Rob Christiansen was responsible for the percussion and mixing on the album. In addition to the standard instruments that The Short Heard ‘Round the World utilizes, there are noticeable sections of piano, glockenspiel, tambourine, clarinet, violin, and trombone. Ten Songs for Town and Country was released on Mountain Landis Record Label this winter and it is a pleasantly enjoyable album.
One of the strongest songs on the album is “Casseopeia”. Brian Hamilton works a sparkling glockenspiel over Brian House’s eloquent bass line and a mixture of acoustic and electric guitars. There is an organic feeling to this song and many others on Ten Songs for Town and Country. The vocals of both Farill and Bean are deep and moving, sounding extremely enjoyable over the shades of the album’s laid-back atmosphere. “Casseopeia” is an impressive arrangement on all aspects from the vocal melody to the key orchestrations. The hook involved contains a vocal alternate where the chorus is highlighted by a sudden change in tone as the title of the song is repeated several times. It’s a highly effective method for The Shot Heard ‘Round the World that they probably won’t be hesitant to use in the future. The song explores the rare but enjoyably simplistic things about love, reflecting on the beauty of a genuine smile and nostalgic memories. “Dead On Night” begins with a bunch of messy distortion but quickly flows into an organized song whose highlights include Ben Howell’s clarinet and Andy Levine’s trombone. The chorus is a bit quirky with a return to the introductory distortion eventually complemented by a stale piano. I could personally do without the distortion and the experimental production on this one, though the instrumentation alone makes it worth a second listen. “Darker, Darker” is just how the title describes: the darkest and eeriest song on the album. The involvement of Anthony Papaudrea’s violin is extremely noticeable and haunting at first, eventually fading away for a few verses. “You come so near,” the vocals broodingly emphasize over the strings, “I put on faces through your embraces”. Clearly the effect of another individual has his heart in need of bandages as the song touches on superficial lies and missteps. When the strings return from the dead they contain an even larger form of intensified passion than before as they overlap themselves over the usual accustomed tone of acoustics, a clarinet, rhythm, and an electric guitar. While Ten Songs for Town and Country does contain one or two bumps along the road, it’s a generally satisfiable debut album with the likes of the extremely agreeable “Casseopeia” and the string-drenched eeriness of “Darker, Darker”. Clearly, the band does their descendants proud.