PREMIERE: Idol Hour - Windy Pines

Kelly Kirwan

Windy Pines has been playing loop since this morning, and I'm dizzy from the spiraling guitar riffs and distortion—the love-child of psychedelia and low-key grunge. The source? Idol Hour, a trio comprised of Stephen Becker, Nathan Swedlow, and Duncan Standish, whose game is centered around otherworldly chord progressions, funky dives, and vocals that shift from even-toned indifference to a soft, high-flying lilt. Their melodies are both plush and frenetic—you almost expect to hear the metallic snap of a guitar string from time to time—making the kind of rock that'll leave your hair slicked back with sweat from trying to keep up.

The track "Bit by Bit" starts off smoothly enough, trotting along with Becker’s muted voice, a casual foxtrot between guitar and percussion. But then, as you come to expect over the course of the album, it rises and falls into bass-driven interludes. Cymbals clash, drums carve out a steady beat, and the reverb starts to fray the song around the edges.

Then there’s "Drug Test," which has undertones of funk and guitar work that feels as if it could spin out at any moment—but Idol Hour knows how to teeter between delirium and dexterity. It’s lyric-less for the first two minutes, because the story’s in the beat, and it gradually picks up the pace with a feeling of looming panic that breaks into thrashing rock. “Why you gotta drug test me?” echoes momentarily in the distance, as if we're halfway through a thought lost to flight-or-fight reflexes. Maybe I’m a sucker for a wry, potentially autobiographical titles, but this one stuck with me. 

As for Windy Pines in general, it’s a slew of taught and speaker-thumping jams. Idol Hour is like a car revving its engine—they tease us a bit, but they never fail to follow through.