Hurricane Bells is the new project from Steve Schiltz, the singer and guitarist from the band, Longwave. The debut album, Tonight Is the Ghost, is an earthy, understated and sensual album. For this reason it pairs well with Kasey’s butternut squash and chickpea tagine. Impressively, Schiltz wrote, played, recorded and mixed the entire album himself. Tonight Is the Ghost is melodically plaintive, but manages to remain confident and optimistic. Indeed, it is one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard this year. It is one of those albums that grows on you, burrowing a snug spot in a comfortable part of your soul with each listen.
Tonight Is The Ghost opens with “This Year,” a song that is wistfully soaring. It opens simply, with soft acoustic guitar and Schiltz’s soft vocals, but gains elevation as the song continues. Schiltz dreams of escaping his troubles before the song takes flight, “if I had a boat / I’d drift to Mexico / there is a place I can go / I’d get swept away / end up in some other place / when the currents change / I’d just get swept away / on the back of your waves / smashing all to pieces when they break.” The second track, “This Is A Test,” features chiming guitar licks draped in reverb and an upbeat melody. It is another solid track, but then, that is unsurprising: the entire album is solid. Alternating between precious and hopeful (“Tonight I’m Going to Be Like a Shooting Star” and “Freezing Rain”) to galloping and confident (“Darkness Is So Deep,” “Crocodile” and “The Winter In New York) the album is literally packed full of what would be considered highlights on most other artists’ debuts. On more nights that I can count, I find myself looking for a good album that is also relatively straightforward. Something not particularly challenging in any sense, but that can retain my attention without being demanding: Tonight Is The Ghost is one of those albums and one of my highest recommendations this year.