SWF – “Let It Be Told”

“On his debut album, ‘Let It Be Told’, SWF honors the fuzzed-out days when radio rock was booming and musicians and music fans alike mythologized the “road” as the fount from which all rock inspiration flowed.” – GT

Grafton Tanner

5
out of 10

SWF
Let It Be Told
October 8th, 2013
Mecca Lecca Recording Co.

Ah the wandering rolling stone that is the rock and roll star. Stevie Weinstein-Foner, who writes and performs as the concisely labeled SWF, is first and foremost a rock and roller living in the 21st Century. After a stint rafting the Colorado River, he spent some time in Central America, detoxed in Brooklyn, recorded some music in Memphis, and now resides full-time back in Brooklyn. In short, this restless rocker is a man of the road, and on his debut album, Let It Be Told, SWF honors the fuzzed-out days when radio rock was booming and musicians and music fans alike mythologized the “road” as the fount from which all rock inspiration flowed.

If there is one thing Brooklyn indie music has going for it now it’s a lionizing of past genres, but instead of typically obsessing over disco, Depeche Mode, and dance pop, SWF glorifies the lo-fi sounds of fuzzy psych rock, a move that a certain indie band from Australia has successfully pulled for the past few years now. But Let It Be Told is not another Brooklyn retro-rock act.  The album definitely shows its southern roots as SWF holed up in Memphis to record it. It takes a bit to get off the ground (opener “Black and Golden” is a pretty boring pick with which to kick off the album), but from the beginning, the aesthetic is established. Every instrument is slathered with lo-fi fuzz to create a sound that is somewhere between Kurt Vile and Deerhunter’s Monomania.

The album’s first half stands solidly as a nice blend of fuzz rock and southern indie. On “Turtle Brain,” SWF gives us the album’s best vocal melody and a nice Jeff Mangum impersonation, which turns out to be the highlight of the record. “Warrior” is another example of SWF’s ability to write catchy vocal lines that punctuate his music, and where most musicians may only provide these moments of musical harmony once in a song, he often repeats them, as in the hook on “Warrior” or on the title track.

But by “Automobile Blues,” SWF slides into a major musical slump. The second half is rather tedious as songs plod along with forgettable vocal lines and re-hashed musical motifs. The final five tracks piddle uneventfully around the mid-tempo mark and lack the punch and gravitas of the first half. There isn’t much in the form of variety throughout the second half, and that severely limits Let It Be Told.  With such a frontloaded album under his belt, SWF is going to have to shift styles a bit to keep up with the hordes of other lo-fi rockers treading the same well-worn path.

SWF – “Black & Golden”