Not only has Civil Twilight
revitalized our faith in the music coming out of South Africa - no thanks to Dave Matthews - but they've also replenished our faith in modern arena-worthy rock. The group's sophomore LP, Holy Weather
, released last year, was a seductive escape from everything overtly experimental and narcissistically minimalist as it brought about an awakening of what modern rock in the current day should embody: passion, precision, and turbulent rhythm. When it came to planning our Launch Pad party down at SXSW, this member of the Wind-up Records family was at the top of our list. The group, fronted by Steven McKeller, came in and unloaded the most kinetic set of our entire trip south.
Civil Twilight brings a perfect blend of atmospheric sound and hazy storytelling that transports you to another place. Although Steven McKellar, his brother Andrew and Richard Wouters hail from South Africa, their sound is incredibly epic and their powerful song Letters From The Sky has provided the soundtrack to your every waking moment since its release. Written as an abstract concept by three lifelong friends, the song, along with their debut self-titled album, takes you to a time where its not quite daylight and not quite darkness.
Civil Twilight provides a safe haven in their vast musical desert for you to seek refuge. Stevens vocals come forth in an eerie falsetto that can only be described as a crosspollination of Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke. Richards drums are pounding reminders that the drummer always bestows the missing piece of the musical puzzle while Andrews guitar is the perfect complement that rounds out Civil Twilights lush soundscape, haunting yet soothing at the same time.
Cape Towns not exactly the center of the musical universe; while their South African roots provided much inspiration, the band grew tired of their surroundings and soon relocated to Los Angeles. After a brief stint in LA, they decided to see what America had to offer and found a studio in South Carolina, where they recorded their first self-titled album but felt a need to experience something bigger. For their sophomore release they decided to settle in Nashville and found themselves enamored with the culture and people. The writing process also shifted on Holy Weather (available March 26, 2012). The road is a strange beast; it can change how you perceive the world and moments that inspire you. Civil Twilight spent the better part of the last year on tour playing the likes of Bonnaroo and Voodoo Fest, opening for acts like Smashing Pumpkins and Florence & The Machine, and headlining their own shows across the country. When Steven started writing songs for their follow-up album, he used the most powerful tool at his disposal: nostalgia. When youre constantly in motion, you cant sit down and spend hours looking at something; you dont have time to really absorb what youre going through so you absorb subconsciously and write about it later as you reflect on it. Theres a difference between actually being in the moment, writing about it as it affects you, than when its flashing through your memory later on. This new approach to songwriting proved more challenging. However, all three members agreed that they wanted to craft an album that was a real test to play, not in terms of technique but in terms of exploring a longing that they hadnt been able to discover on the previous record.
Most of the songs are intangible to the listener. Every song is written from a different characters perspective; Steven taps into fictional personae, inspired by real-life people hes met and wonders how theyd adapt to certain situations. Put yourself into a Civil Twilight song and youll find yourself in a world where its not quite dark, yet not quite light, but exactly the place you want to be.