“All That You Need”, the opening cut on the first of what will hopefully be many Protest Hill projects, is a lovely, darkly-hued piece of piano-driven alternative rock causing the song to seem a jazzier, less foreboding cousin to the eerie “Pyramid Song” from Radiohead’s 2001 album Amnesiac. While other songs on the record, most notably “Boy Meets Girl”, share a similar approach, the majority of the material is steeped in an acoustic-guitar driven, folk rock sensibility that is both earnest and engaging. By displaying an equal level of comfort in the various settings he has created, RFK Heise (Protest Hill architect better known as the frontman for Portland-based indie rockers System and Station) skillfully achieves a nuanced blend of moods, tonal colors and styles; The City Echoes Our Hearts succeeds on the strength of Heise’s songwriting and the beauty exhibited through this winning combination of elements. While the project experiences little drop off in quality from track to track, richly exquisite ballads “Sleep Inside the Wake” and “Sometimes” especially stand out as do “Matches” and “Only the Lonely,” cuts which use contrast in dynamic and timbre to great effect. Recorded during the summer of 2005, it is a shame the album is just now seeing the light of day; this is quality work from Heise that is worthy of attention.
// Notes from the Road
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