These Bashful Claws is the project of Charlie O’Neil from Fort Collins’ Colorado. His new album, Everything, All at Once, came out at the beginning of April. O’Neil also plays in WTD favs Gleemer (Corey Coffman mixed the album), and the bands share certain similarities, at least as much to say that if you like Gleemer then you should be sure to check out These Bashful Claws. Their sound is an affecting mix of indie rock, dream pop, emo and slowcore, the heavy atmosphere reminiscent of The Antlers before they got all sleek and poppy.
Opener ‘Easter’ sets the tone for the album, sounding slow and melancholy but also somehow not, hitting a reflective but hopeful note. The breathy and patient vocals deliver lyrics which seemingly detail a mutually dependent relationship, “You need me, you stole the skip in my step / I think I know when you smile at me, and I can’t feel my toes, even if I’m empty”. ‘October’ starts sad and simmers until it lights up bright-white, becoming a crashing, epic finale. The lyrics here hark back to nicer times:
I remember when we met
the things you once had said to me
when our skin was cooled
and how we felt at ease”
The following track, ‘Felt’, feels like the morning after the storm, coming across as a mix of Typhoon’s expansive indie rock and Manchester Orchestra’s slower emotive moments. “Things will be alright, I tell you every night”, O’Neil sings, “I should open my eyes when you doubt me,
you’re probably right”. ‘Grow’ is soft and patient, open spaces between the lines filled with just the doleful bubble of guitar. The lyrics are dark and desperate, but the whole thing comes together (almost in spite of itself) into something stirring when the background vocals join O’Neil’s. The sound shifts into almost post-rock territory on ‘Paper’, building and building with thick emotion and a marching drum beat, eventually hitting a heavy crescendo, while ‘Eyes’ is one of the tracks that conjures thoughts of Hospice, especially the corporeal imagery of the lyrics in detailing the end of things.
“I saw smoke around the front yard of our house
you were right,
I don’t know what’s on my mind
but I feel fine”
‘Spider’ is another track that slowly unfurls, eventually a crash of drums and epic guitar, while ‘Keeping’ is based on a pulsing drumbeat, the vocals stalking around like the gloomy spectres of what could have been, emotions from another time. Penultimate track ‘December’ seems to describe an incredibly painful deterioration, a person trying to hold things together as they slowly fall apart. The track’s closing offers little consolation, grief replacing the clawing sensation of trying to hold on. Closer ‘Unfold’ ends on a typically anxious note, forgoing any resense of peace or closure.
“For the first time I feel a little older.
Am I acting the same as ever around you?
Behind your back I think I act the same.
But this ring still bites, and my friends all fight, and this will never change”
You can get Everything, All at Once now on CD or as a name-your-price download via the These Bashful Claws Bandcamp page.