I came across this album very late in the year, so late I never got around to writing an original review but it completely blew me away to the point it forced its way into my Top Ten. The Dandelion War's We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes is the #7 album in my Best of 2012.
Favorite Tracks: "Drifters", A Different Heav'n", "A Mi Alrededor", "Stone Castles"
Blending a number of influences they proudly wear on their sleeves, Oakland's The Dandelion War create beautifully melodic, vocal post-rock music. Also drawing from ambient, shoegaze and even various electronic genres, the band's music is filled with swooning, rich harmonies and shimmering guitars. The genuinely gorgeous music this five piece creates is fully realized on their latest release, We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes, an album that has catapulted its way onto my year-end Best Of list.
This marks the band's second album, following up 2010's Geometrics And Orchids. They list Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, Sigur Ros and This Will Destroy You, amongst others, as influences and all of those bands are easy to hear within the music of The Dandelion War. But they manage to do something that is becoming less common in the post-rock realm, carve out their own sound within those influences.
After the orchestral "Strange Ghosts" gets things started, complete with harmonious howls, the sparseness of the beginning of "Drifters" takes you aback. Just an organ and lead vocalist Larry Fernandez with his angelic falsetto soaring and echoing above, before the guitars and drums take the song to the next level. Fernandez delivers an epic performance throughout the album, that voice is a thing of beauty, perhaps best exemplified on "A Mi Alrededor". The journey he takes you on vocally on this track, sung entirely in Spanish, is a natural wonder.
Other highlights include "A Different Heav'n", a quiet ballad for its first half before percussion joins in and ethereal vocal harmonies close the song out. "Bloom" is a relaxing, instrumental ambient rock piece planted in the middle, a brief respite from the powerfully emotional music on display here. Things come to a close with the massive "Stone Castles", the album's longest track at over eight and a half minutes. It's one of those epic building songs, that when it bursts to life makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes is the type of album you finish listening to and are just thankful you came across. You can hear the care that was taken in assembling this record, as a whole from beginning to end it is a journey of musical excellence. If music that touches the soul is as important to you as it is to me, this is a band you need to familiarize yourself with and quick. A ten track piece of perfection.
We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes was released September 12, 2012 on Deep Elm Records.