Pearly Gate Music
Pearly Gate Music
( Barsuk/Bella Union)
Although Pearly Gate Music’s (aka Zach Tillman) self-titled debut album ranges from woodsy indie pop to Americana low-fi with even some shoe-gazer guitar distortion thrown in, it’s his more spiritual, gospel sounding songs that really grab your attention. The first track on the album, “Golden Funeral,” is just such a track. The song is very simple, featuring Tillman’s voice, nearly a capella, with quiet ambient keyboards and running water sounds in the background. The phrasing and emotion immediately drew me in and made me curious of what’s to come.
This spiritual sound returns later on “I Was a River” and in a more upbeat form on “Daddy Wrote You Letters…,” which often repeats the same line over and over and almost takes on a “Spirit in the Sky” rock and roll sound.
“Big Escape” is completely different than most tracks you’ll hear on this album, as it has a pop-happy, Brian Wilson Pet Sounds vibe with heavy guitar feedback at the end. It’s fun and fairly complex, showcasing Tillman’s voice in a different way than the spirituals do.
“Big Escape” doesn’t necessarily make much sense following “Golden Funeral,” but I like them both a lot, and they prove to be much more interesting than a few of the other dud tracks that show up toward the end of the album.
The entire album was written in Tillman’s Seattle home with a little help from his friends (and a brother—Josh Tillman, the drummer from Fleet Foxes). This is where much of the DIY, low-fi, basement tapes sound comes from, as many of the songs were recorded on a 4-track in Tillman’s living room. As a debut album, I feel Pearly Gate Music has made a decent introduction of himself and I’m curious to see what’s next for Tillman.