Louisville, Kentucky is quickly becoming one of the most eclectic and exciting cities for up and coming new musical acts. The sounds coming out of Louisville range from bluegrass to post punk, with bands like Whistle Peak and Nerves Junior blending so many genres that they’re impossible to define with a simple one or two word label. Following in this notion is one of the most exciting acts to come out of Louisville in 2012, Murals. Their newest LP On a Passing Cloud is a bizarre, yet strangely perfect blending of the burnt-out San Francisco psych sound, Kentucky folk, and a call back to the late 50’s/early 60’s soft, yet smart music of a Simon & Garfunkel or a Chad & Jeremy.
On a Passing Cloud isn’t an in your face record, but it still makes bold move after bold move, throwing small, but powerful curveballs and keeping the listener on their toes. On their debut single, “Eyes of Love,” Murals craft a very pleasant guitar lead that is interrupted by a slightly-off piano that hesitates momentarily, as if to ensure that the listener is paying attention and not drifting with their floating melodies. About a minute and sixteen seconds into the song, Murals switch everything up and introduce a trotting, almost western-like melody that quickly turns dark, with lush ambient layers creeping over and interrupting the cowboy moment. The song ends with the piano resonating, and it quickly becomes apparent that while Murals are fully capable of invoking Simon and Garfunkel, they’re equally capable of invoking David Lynch - slightly off, but somehow always making sense.
Unfortunately for Murals, their music is not the type to set the world ablaze in a matter of minutes. It’s always been a problem for bands like Woods or Kurt Vile (both who eventually found a great audience), while great bands like M83 or Animal Collective can release one track and become household names. Bands like Murals work like a slow burning candle while others have the luxury of attention-grabbing fireworks. But for those that do dig deep into one of the most soothing, interesting, and admirable albums of 2012, the reward will be joining the talented, slow-burning Murals as they gradually build and eventually get the credit such talent deserves. Last week I called Dent May’s record Do Things the summer record of the year. On a Passing Cloud is the shadow to that album, the perfect wind down to a summer day and all its excitement. Murals don’t want to tuck you in before bed, but they’re with you on the porch as the night swallows some of the summer heat and reflection sets in. A more perfect soundtrack than On a Passing Cloud for such moments will be hard to find this year.