Like 'em or hate 'em, you have to give Deep Elm credit--where do they find these bands? Settlefish is their latest signing--and they come from Italy. Who would have thought that an overwhelmingly obscure American style of music could be found in Italy? Seems a bit shocking to me, though. You gotta hand it to Deep Elm, though--they've certainly scoured the globe in search of moody, atmospheric and emotionally-charged music, and Settlefish are certainly a--ahem--good catch.
Settlefish sound just like what you'd expect from a band on Deep Elm, and considering their recent string of excellent releases, this little band from Italy are an excellent score. Led by Jonathan Clancy, Settlefish are a band to be reckoned with, and Dance A While, Upset is a most pleasing debut. While there are moments that seem to come straight out of the "how to be emo" book, all in all Settlefish really don't play that game. They make smart, literate rock music, with a large dose of atmosphere and a bit of passion thrown in the mix. At times they seem to sound a lot like Archers of Loaf circa All the Nations Airports, but minus the whole indie-rock thing--though at times Clancy sounds a bit like Eric Bachmann. When they bring out the epics--and many of these songs go well over the five minute mark--they really shine, because their music is deep, and extended thoughts and ideas really suit them well. I'm rather fond of "On Symmetry Pebbles," and "Northern Town," as they're extremely moving songs.
Dance A While, Upset is a most promising debut; given time, I'm sure that Settlefish will grow more comfortable into a style that's fully their own; the cliches will slip away, and Deep Elm will have yet another awesome band in their stable--all of their other bands did, so why not these guys? It'll be interesting to see what Settlefish turn into over the next few records, because I'm hearing excellence.