I’m even more enthused if an acoustic guitar is the primary songwriting instrument for the aforementioned. Typhoon’s “A New Kind of House” EP is all of that and more.
The icing on the cake of all that I mentioned is if the band can make the songs beautiful. Music doesn’t have to be beautiful to be excellent, but man, it helps. And Typhoon’s songs fit all the descriptors so far. The band writes tunes that fit neatly into the current listener’s palate (Mumford & Sons/Avett Brothers/Arcade Fire, all of whom dominated at the Grammys), but also have tunes that could be covered at any time past or future.
“You don’t want to waste what’s left of your life/trying to stay alive for just a little while,” says Kyle Morton mournfully over an earnest acoustic guitar strum to open “Kitchen Tile.” The enigmatic lyric sways into a choir triumphantly singing, “You were gone!” Then they break into even more gorgeous harmonies to belt out, “Kitchen tile!” Some toms hit. The song ends, a minute and a half after it started. My brain is blown.
“Firewood” is a piano tune with an electric guitar modified to sound like an accordion accompanying. A gentle bell kit, distant percussion, a cello and humming come in to fill out the tune. It’s breathtaking.
But those are the short tunes. The three bigger tunes here (up to eight minutes long, for “Claws, Pt. 1”) make full use of the fact that they live in Portland, Ore., and include up to 14 (!!!) members. Horn sections, string parts, multiple percussionists and more pack the songs, but never clutter. Somewhere, a music composition major is wondering why he can’t form a band like Typhoon.
Typhoon accomplishes more in 21 minutes than some bands can accomplish in a career. These songs are endearing, invigorating, mature, well-orchestrated, brilliantly performed, immaculately recorded and summarily astounding. The EP drops March 8, and you need to check it out. They will be making waves soon. —Stephen Carradini