Old Ugly, 2011
Haunting. Agonizing. Even besieged works as a descriptor of what Tyler Butler delivers on Winter King. From the whispered, opening count of "Barghest," a steadying, slowly forward-moving force that anchors the album, to the hushed chords that roll towards the ending of "Sparrow," only to ultimately just sort of tilt and dissipate into nothing, Butler summons an emotional undertow throughout the record, letting loose lyrical paintings that hint at a sunrise somewhere just over the horizon: a slight glow waits just out of reach. There's a sense that the ground is shifting and the ideal is something unachievable here, Butler walking the line between folk and punk by melding the former's quiet instrumentation with the latter's desperation, resulting in an album that plays softly but which cannot be ignored.
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