The Music Room. Wolves Without Teeth EP

The Music Room and Bandcamp, 2013.

The Music Room:
The songs of The Music Room are given voice by Aimee Bellanca, while the writing and music is done by her brother, Dane Johnson. Together, the duo create a disquieting audio image that represents far too common a theme in modern society- that of beauty existing despite crushing circumstances. Aimee’s voice is pitch-perfect, from what I can tell, listening to digital downloads of Wolves Without Teeth, and the painfulness of obvious auto-tune isn’t there. The words sung this sweet, innocent voice speak of fears, harsh realities, and sadness, but from a matter-of-fact place that sees the world as it is, and finds beauty in spite of everything. Their discography includes a previous full album, Lesser Loves, from 2008 and another EP, Live While You’re Alive, in 2011. This latest EP is to benefit victims of sex trafficking, with proceeds going to Courage Worldwide.

The sound of The Music Room is a familiar one at this point, think Decemberists meet early Ashley Brook Toussant meets Lucius, with a less depressing E.A. Poe as their writer. It’s the little children holding their head high as they climb into bed, sure that there are monsters but they’ll be safe. It’s the Brothers Grimm set to a lullaby. However you want to describe their sound, and no matter how many similar artists you may have heard, check out this group, because they have something to say that’s very relevant to the people living today. The idea of understated strength and subtle beauty are far too uncommon in a world of machismo and gaudiness, and The Music Room brings the former traits to bear in their words and sounds.

The Next Morning begins by stating, “I will keep my head high” and continues from that point of subtle defiance and perseverance. Gentle guitar and tambourine for emphasis support the vocals as banjo and brother come in to complement parts of the chorus. The fear of failing and the wisdom of “the only thing we have to fear” are brought to bear in the title track, reminding us that our fears only hold the power over us that we allow them to have. The sweeping cymbal crescendos give voice to the upwelling of courage as one confronts their fears. Pack Your Bags brings in both Johnson and Bellanca and speaks to the power of unity and being able to leave unhealthy situations. The catchy synth-beat adds an almost marching feel to this song. Johnson takes the lead in Triumph Song, and the words and music work in concert to give a triumphant tone although Triumph Song ends with more of a whimper than the bellow I was wanting. The beginning of Race to Your Love talks of “waiting for your love” although it switches to “race to your love” quickly. The vast difference between “race to” and “wait for” seems dissonant to me and take away from an otherwise gorgeous song. Lesser Loves is a calm, slow end to this album, although it does have some more up-tempo moments. Throughout the recording, there is background noise at high levels, so this isn’t a piece that I would recommend cranking up, as powerful as it is at high volumes.

All in all, Wolves Without Teeth is a treat for the ears and the heart, and even though they do have streaming available on their Bandcamp site, make a small donation to download the whole thing. It’s worth it to not have to worry about bandwidth or other internet issues, and the money goes to a good cause.

Personnel: Aimee Bellanca, Dane Johnson

Tracks: The Next Morning, Wolves Without Teeth, Pack Your Bags, Triumph Song, Race to Your Love, Lesser Loves

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