Decibully - City Of Festivals (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


City Of Festivals (2003)


Labelling Decibully as ex-Promise Ring is rather misleading - sure, William Seidel and Ryan Weber were both in the last incarnation of The Promise Ring, but Weber was merely their millionth bassist and Seidel simply did backup vocals and auxillary percussion. Not exactly the heart and soul of the band [although former TPR guitarist Jason Gnewikow used to play drums for Decibully but left the septet shortly before the recording of this album]. So while it is a tad bit shady to call the band ex-Promise Ring, one can go one step further [and stranger] by labelling them ex-Since By Man, as guitarist W. Kenneth Seibert used to be in the Milwaukee progressive hardcore group.

Oh yeah, Decibully also contains former/current members of a million other bands, most well known being Camden [and it's about a 12-way tie for least well known]. So with all seven members having quite the storied rock pedigree, what kind of music would they create?

If your guess was "laid back, jazzy, country-influenced androgynously-sung indie rock," I would have given you a dollar for even knowing what the word androgynous meant, let alone guessing the band's exact subgenre. But anyway. Decibully lets Seidel step in front of the mic full time, and the man's otherworldly falsetto is bonechilling in it's boyishness. His voice definitely wouldn't work as a lead in any normal band, and that's the beauty of Decibully's lineup - their musical depth is virtually unmatched. Any number of unusual instruments make an appearence through the album's 12 tracks, including but not limited to trombone, banjo, lap steel, harmonica, and a million different kinds of organs and synths. The most amazing part of this is that with all of this going on, the band still allows the vocal melodies to shine through, in tracks like "Spiderbites" and the slow-pulsed "On The Way To Your Hotel." The mix on the CD is near perfect, allowing you to hear every individual flourish the band implanted in the tracks.

Rarely do I comment on album artwork, but once again photographer Chris Strong does a fantastic job of capturing the album's essence with just a few camera clicks. Just as he showed Armor For Sleep's inherently boring music via pictures of empty furniture, he conveys Decibully's moody brilliance through a liberal use of greyscale front porch. Listening to Seidel croon the short, sparse, acoustic "Tied To The Rhythm" while studying the artwork makes it a perfect match - it's almost as if the song was written for the art itself.

This album, while not mindblowing, is a solid addition to one's collection, and would be most utilized on a rainy day or overcast drive home from work. Even though I doubted Weber and Seidel's contributions to the last Promise Ring album earlier, I can't help but wonder how much of the more laid back feel of that disc came from their input, as you can definitely see the connection with this album. Even though they have a terrible name, Decibully sure knows how to make a fun, intelligent tune. Check it out.

On The Way To Your Hotel
Tables Turn
Some Need Change
My Lighter and Strings