smallhands - How To Say Goodbye TMOD007


Smallhands’ debut album has become a running joke in the Central/Northern Virginia emo scene, every time they play there’s inevitably someone who asks “So, when’s that album going to be done?” Finally, that joke can be put to rest with the release of How To Say Goodbye, their debut LP. For a few years now they’ve been playing melancholy dream sequences of songs somewhere between the near post-rock emo of early releases by The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die or Deer Leap and the totally reverberated shoegaze of Ride or Slowdive. Although these similarities are definitely noticeable — Smallhands manage to be completely unburdened by them, sprawling tracks with loose structure and ambient interludes make their music intriguing to listen to and completely out of the ordinary.

What’s even more impressive is the amazing production on HTSG, despite it being a DIY effort. Mixed and mastered in-house by their drummer, Austin O’Rourke (who was awarded the 2015 Gold ASCAP Morton Young Composer Award for his modern classical composition), and recorded between full time work and school schedules at various locations, it’s amazingly cohesive for the result of such a long and scattered process. Maybe part of that cohesive feeling comes from the masterful ambience which permeates the entirety of the album, orchestrated by guitarist and lead vocalist Winston Givler with cavernous delays and reverberations. Carrying the songs themselves are Kyle Guerra’s intricate bass riffs and rhythms which add stability and structure to songs which might otherwise be more freeform and less approachable.

While this album, in the emo tradition, deals with loss and the internal struggles that go hand in hand with that — it also follows a sort of positive continuation, growing into a crescendo of catharsis. From the seething “Jack Black Taught Me This One” which laments crushing feelings that can’t be shared with anyone in heavy, tolling guitar; to “No Pressure” which documents the downtrodden double talk of “everything feels fine / everything feels just fine”; finally reaching some measure emotional cessation at the end of the album on “That’s Just So… Raven” which closes everything out in massive drum fills and screeching guitars. At the end of the day, How To Say Goodbye is the vented expression of concentrated emotions, which come as a package with growing up.

Track Listing

    1. Rocks Under Worn Shoes
    2. Jack Black Taught Me This One
    3. Not Even Defrost Can Help This
    4. Talk To Your Friend Jeff
    5. Chemtrail Rant
    6. No Pressure
    7. Humble Rat
    8. Thanksgiving is Ruined
    9. Sleeping on Car Seats Outside
    10. That's Just So... Raven 11. Thanksgiving is Ruined (bonus demo version)

Pressing Information

/50 Clear tapes /w black imprinting & 4 panel jcards