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Standout Track: No. 1, “Christchurch,” a soaring ode to an old relationship from the Mount Pleasant-based chamber-folk septet’s debut EP, Slow Mountain EP. The song, which shares some musical DNA with the melancholy tweedom of Neutral Milk Hotel, is Waltz Brigade’s first original tune. (The band started off playing Blind Pilot covers.) “Christchurch” features an oboe line in addition to guitar, upright bass, and percussion, a layered sound that grew as the band did, according to lead singer and guitarist Mark Betancourt. When the group needed a bass player, its members called on their friend Art von Lehe, who came over right away; when they needed a female vocalist, Betancourt recruited his wife, Jaime Knepper.
Musical Motivation: Betancourt didn’t set out to tell the story of the past romance in the song—the tale came out in the drafting. “There’s generally a lot of interplay when I write between the melody and the lyrics,” he says. “I sort of just ask myself what sort of song that looks like and what it seems like it should be about.” The simple string arrangement of “Christchurch” suits the joy and sadness Betancourt captures when describing his former companion’s life on the other side of the world.
Praise and Worship: Though he doesn’t consider himself a religious person, Betancourt uses a common Christian exclamation of praise in the song’s chorus: “In Christchurch/Hosanna she lives.” Pairing the term with a city named for Jesus might sound too on the nose, but it illustrates the specific kind of elation Betancourt felt knowing his friend was alright. “The song is really about the fact that her still existing and still being somewhere in the world and being safe and breathing and moving forward in life was, in a lot of ways, a very jubilant feeling to feel.”
Stream “Christchurch” after the jump.