By: Ginny Yang
Sometimes, judgment relies on the company one keeps, and the Long Winters’ John Roderick keeps pretty elite company. Once a Harvey Danger sideman, Roderick has crafted two studio albums and Ultimatum, a new EP, all of which have become roll calls for indie rock’s rising elite, boasting appearances by members of Harvey Danger, Built to Spill, Sunny Day Real Estate, Fountains of Wayne, the Posies, and Death Cab for Cutie. Since then, the Seattle native’s Americana-inspired harmonies have earned the Long Winters a place on the third installment of The O.C. soundtrack. Now that’s good company.
Ultimatum offers a preview of the band’s upcoming full-length release, due out next year. Backed by guitarist Mike Squires, bassist Eric Corson, and drummer Nabil Ayers, Roderick gives up hook-filled ditties in favor of veiled lyrics and somber ballads. Deliberate piano lines grace “The Commander Thinks Aloud,” while the title track is packed with finger-picked folk melodies. The frontman’s inviting vocals describe yearning and quiet suffering. “You play hard to want / You’re hard to crumble up / I belong to someone already gone,” he laments in “Delicate Hands.” However, these aren’t your typical love songs: “I hope I can keep seeing you / As long as you don’t say you’re falling in love,” Roderick declares on “Ultimatum.” Yet even as the lyrics reveal a mind that is perhaps flawed and a little lost, the album’s lush and evocative tracks will still make listeners believe in second chances.