Somewhere, in a secluded cave near The Cloisters, in Upper Manhattan, Little Tybee chill out, re-stringing their instruments and peeking through their detect-o-crime radar (TM) for any villains that need to be stopped. Sure, they might miss their home in Atlanta, but it’ a sweet hangout, which includes a neverending supply of A&W Rootbeer (arguably the best one).
There’s also plenty of space for their spaceship, the TybeeWing (TM), which takes them on tour through the Solar System whenever they need some space-borne inspiration, whether it’s a couple of asteroids colliding, the Van Allen belt supercharging their violinist or just a cool peek at Neptune.
So, up there, in space, between stops, what do they do? They play folk, but not a “milky mood” type of folk, but a rather expansive, almost prog rock/space rock sort of “expansive”, only without the crazy distortions (without one exception – we’ll get to that). These songs, recorded in a place bathed by quasars, pulsars and dwarf stars is called For Distant Viewing.
‘For distant viewing’ starts it all, with a mournful violin and a chilled out pace. It’s “road trip” territory for this song, for the long drives from Nowhere USA to Monument Valley. ‘Mind Grenade’ follows suit, but there’s a spot of jazz here and some heavy arpeggio-use. ‘Hearing Blue’ even emphasises the use of arpeggios more, getting that sort of tropical sound bands like Conveyor or Maps & Atlases so deftly create, with the added bonus of impeccable violin and drum rhythms. The song eventually explodes into a delightful instrumental break that might help the deft ones to dance a bit (not me – terrible coordination).
Little Tybee knows that a good band can sometimes throw a couple of instrumentals into the mix, just to shake the foundation. You get a couple here. ‘Left right’ is a bit jazzy and tropical, with a slight experimental pop taste that only needs bell bottoms to be vintage 70s. Gorgeous. ‘Fantastic Planet’ is the way of the band kicking into Hyperspace (or Warp Drive, if you feel more pointy eared).
Now, I teased you about an exception in the “no distortion!” unwritten law I just perniciously made up about Little Tybee. This (non existent) rule is thoroughly broken in ‘Herman’, a topsy turvy travel through a red world of emotions. The band sounds perfectly in unison here, with each one democratically adding equally to the gorgeous atmosphere. Then a fuzzed out, cranked up guitar is added, with a whistling, proggy keyboard doing a cameo. It comes out of nowhere but it doesn’t jars, it keeps you on your toes for the rest of the song, giving it a very cool evolution.
‘Jury Duty’ is an equally evolving song, but without the need of distortion. It goes from sweet melodic moments to even quieter realms, maximing the 5 minute running time to experiment, throw a few emotive changes from time to time. Emotions go from mournful to wistful, even playful for a few moments. ‘The Boldest’ is Little Tybee at its playful best, even if the nostalgic instrumental break (again, kudos to the violinist) transmits so many emotions.
‘A dog waits in the doorway’ closes For Distant Viewing in a very solemn way. No doors are slammed, but gently shut. Very impressive album for a band who certainly has the chops to sound loud and quiet with mostly acoustic instruments. For fans of Maps & Atlases, Conveyor and Son Volt.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López