A quilt is a supposed to be a multilayered fabric, myriads of styles overlapping over each other. Quillt’s latest album, Plaza, inches closer to that ideal, stitching everything together cohesively and avoiding too much of a disjointed jumble as so often happens with bands who try to conjure as much sound variation as possible.
Plaza’s draw is its warmth, kindled by the voices of Anna Fox Rochinski (guitar), Shane Butler (guitar), and John Andrews (drums). The style is a throwback to the era of psychedelic Beatles and Buffalo Springfield, with dozy strumming, celestial guitar lines, and a bass (Kevin Lareau) with gay abandon. The first single ‘Eliot St’ has all of this leading up to an incredibly light hearted way of singing about getting so close yet so far: “Oh I can’t sleep, I’m thinking all too much. Always shaking hands and never showing up and I’ve no had no luck.” Sharp, punchy strings hold the songs’ parts together, providing a sunny disposition.
The most beautiful track on this album is ‘Padova’ a song written by Butler in the Italian city. There’s a 5-string classical guitar with alternative tuning, harp and slide guitar. The former treads water like one would walk on jellyfish, with the least effort as possible. Death was on his mind as Butler confesses how hard it is to play rock n’ roll when there’s a recently departed lingering in our soul. Padova is then used effortlessly in a droning chant, “Maybe we’ll meet in Padova”. I’ve never been to Padova but a quick Google image search justifies its replacement for some sort of paradise.
As a touring band with at least two songwriters, it’s perhaps not hard to understand why a couple of songs deal with the subject of moving or finding a home. In ‘Searching For’, there’s physical and temporal displacement to the feeling of loss. In the bridge, Butler sings “she can’t remember when she felt her own age” then “I’m now remembering but always so unsure.” Meanwhile, guitar chords wobble and shimmer, honing in on the uncertainty. The same guitars are made to sound ominous with reverb on the final cut, ‘Our Ways’, a song about friends and lovers having to separate. To end the album, the guitars couple with distorted strings to lead the only (rather contained, if I must say) freak-out on this album, showing some rock pedigree.
I think everybody has that moment in their lives; when they realise music could actually break out from whatever streak they’ve been listening to, taking on multiple directions and blossoming like a fireworks display. I’ve had many such moments ever since and while Quilt frankly speaking doesn’t ever hit that peak for me, I can see it happening for so many other people. There’s an awesome blend of psychedelia, folk rock, and catchy pop on Plaza to remind listeners of what music was like before and where it is still heading.