All Them Witches ATW

All Them Witches ATW
7
After releasing four studio albums — each with increased production value and outside intervention — All Them Witches have turned inwards for their fifth, opting to self-record and produce ATW in a cabin less than an hour's drive from their native Nashville.
 
The result is understandably different from much of the band's catalogue. The stoner rock aesthetic that characterizes earlier work like Lightning at the Door and Dying Surfer Meets His Maker is not as easy to spot on ATW, which favours reflectiveness over rambunctious riffs. Case in point, back-to-back tracks "Diamond" and "Harvest Feast" present slower, plodding rhythms than what listeners may be accustomed to hearing from the band (while nevertheless remaining punctuated by the fervour of Ben McLeod's guitar lines and Robby Staebler's drum fills).
 
In contrast, songs like "Fishbelly 86 Onions" and "1st vs. 2nd" sound far more Costello than Presley, coming closer to new wave bops than the bluesy ruminations found elsewhere on the album.
 
ATW is perplexing in its ability to both continue many of All Them Witches' songwriting motifs while often (and sometimes simultaneously) subverting them altogether. Album closer "Rob's Dream" showcases this dichotomy best, beginning with uncharacteristically sheepish vocals from Charles Michael Parks, Jr. and ending with a bombastic, lick-laden outro. It's an awkward balance to strike, but it's handled well and it begs the question of what will come next. (New West)