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Chris Green reviews Towhee's "Streetlights"

Ohio keeps surprising me. When Roman Titus and I went north last weekend to hangout with the four-person band Towhee, I admittedly wasn’t too thrilled about hanging out with a Dayton band, let alone in Dayton. What can I say, I have a slight bias. However, after hanging out with Brandon, Sarah, Vallen, and Josh for over an hour, and then listening to their album “Streetlights”, I was embarrassedly repelled by my prejudice.

This indie-pop-rock quartet beautifully blends together melodic, melancholic, meandering music with Brandon’s Ben Gibbard-ish voice with intermissions of Sarah’s lurking, ethereal voice.. The likes of early Death Cab, American Football, and American Analogue Set are clearly heard throughout this musical ensemble, however there is too much that is distinctive to make any naive “copy-cat” accusations. “Streetlights” most brilliant element is how eclectic each song is, and how Towhee manages to blend in a variety of different beats throughout each song. Once your tapping fingers find the basic beat to a song, ‘Bamn!’, they throw you for a loop with an off beat that keeps you glued to their movements instead of where you presume they’re taking you.

The two newest members of the band—Josh and Vallen—have only been around for about nine months. Only Brandon and Sarah were around for the making of “Streetlights”, but the inter-relating the four have is a mirror image to how incredible their musical construction is. When listening to the album, you can often feel through the songs what it’s like to struggle through relationships and the difficulties with living in Midwest Ohio. Brandon weaves popish loops through a folkie-dance melody that leaves one feeling that, as difficult it is to live in dirty, dark cities (tell me: what city in Ohio has a lively downtown night life?), there’s still something worth dancing about.

The current quartet is working on their next album, which Brandon is producing himself. One thing is certain: my days of assuming some sort of qualitative lacking with cities has been obliterated thanks to these folks. I’d gladly welcome them to Cincinnati any day and, heck, I’d even hang out at a Dayton pub if it meant I was able to watch Towhee do their thing.