Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The Vs of geese have been flying over our heads pretty regularly for the past few weeks. They're headed in the right direction too, their beaks pointed due south, off to their wintering spots. Honking above the din of the ground cover below, these birds move off with their instinctual one-track minds. They see all of the leaf-raking happening below them, the garden hoses being flushed of any remaining water, rolled up and stored indoors somewhere for the cold months. They add their voices, the likely chatter of a flock of excited vacationers at the outset of the trip, swimming in what's in store for them when they get to their final destination. The sounds that they make alert us to how late it is in the year, tipping us all off that the autumn is drawing quickly to a close and that winter is just one or two cold fronts from being here, pitching an icy tent on us for the next four months, or until we start to hear the honks coming from the direction we last remembered them heading. Speaking as someone who always gazes upward when he hears these seasonal sounds, we think we can spot others who do the same thing, perhaps even wonder at the birds returning in the spring if they're the same ones that they saw flying the other way in the fall.
Philadelphia band Arches, made up of the principle members of singers Julien Rossow Greenberg and Tom Herman Jr., fit the bill. They have the tendencies that would suggest that they would pay particular attention to those threads of sound that might get ignored in the hustle. One of the extra, auxiliary players on the group's latest album, "Wide Awake," is the sound of a patient, but chilly-sounding winter wind. It sounds like the kind of wind, the strength of which would cause any man or woman to throw on an extra layer, something or anything that could keep that biting air from getting through to them. On record, is rests in the mix with the duo's easy, cinnamon-y, candlelight vocals that reach into that reverb box and take all that they need to make a fire. They sing about time coming to a halt, as well as holding onto the feeling of a fear for the dark. It's as if there are many things out there that should still be scary, even for those who know better, who are older and wiser. We're surrounded by those comfort sounds and yet some crinkled and blowing leaves in the dark can sound like prowlers out and up to no good, ready to jump you. We know when we're not safe and we rarely know when we are truly safe. Arches music straddles that fine line between the beautiful lull of the undulating waves of an ocean and the part of the scene where you feel a tug on your leg from below.