REVIEW: Alpenglow - Callisto

Kelly Kirwan

Alpenglow embodies the lyrical quality of their namesake. Originally based in Burlington, Vermont, I imagine the quartet had a brooding, one-with-nature, Walden-esque approach when it came to their creative brainstorming. In fact, the four collectively admitted that their band is "intensely influenced by their surroundings." Their first EP, Chapel, was colored by their time in Vermont—practicing in an old mill, living in a town whose population struggled to hit 600.

As a result, their music had the serene, lingering vibe one would expect from picturesque, pastoral surroundings. Alpenglow has an elegance I associate with Old English poetry, unraveling in a way that's both soothing and pensive (and, fun fact: Robert Frost used to live in that same Vermont town, back in the day). But, as is nature's way, Alpenglow came across two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and decided to walk the path they found unfamiliar. They packed it up and set off towards New York’s favorite indie borough (I’ll give you three guesses as to which one).

While their debut album, Callisto, still has the delicacy of Alpenglow B.B. (Before Brooklyn), there's a bit more grit to their melodies. The four went from fresh air and open expanses to windowless rooms and the never-ending white noise of sirens and metal-head neighbors. Practicing in their ten-by-ten studio, the bandmates absorbed aspects of the distortion-heavy jams that seeped through their walls. It’s an addition that isn't heavy-handed—a dash of drum machine here, noted use of an amplifier there. Just a slight edge to show their evolution.

Their track "Solitude" is particularly clever in the way it contrasts city life to the countryside, with a honey-smooth voice singing, “If I wanted my solitude I’d move to the city / If I wanted to be with you I’d move to the woods for a little while.” It’s sly in the way it paints intimacy—how it can evade us in overcrowded a city, and take root in a relatively isolated corner of the country. “Some cities are for sleeping / Others just float like dreamers,” the song continues, and it’s this personification of place that drives home Alpenglow’s previous point—their surroundings are their muse.

Then there’s "Wishing Well," which is as soothing as it is spellbinding. The vocals drift in and out of high pitches with ease, silky and hypnotic even as the reverb and static gradually overwhelm the otherwise tranquil melody. It feels like a memory revisited right before sleep—mellow and perhaps a little pained by yearning. This isn't a track that plays, it's a track that glides.

Though Callisto is their first full album, Alpenglow has already opened for established acts like Lucius and Timber Timbre, while dabbling in a mild reinvention. They've added a touch of psychedelia to the slow decadence of their previous melodies, and have managed to make this shift feel like a natural progression. This is a band that mixes raw talent with an eagerness to explore (and not for the sake of trendiness). So dive into their pensive melodies and newfound city-grit, because wherever Alpenglow decides to go—physically or musically—we'll be inclined to follow.