Tall Heights – CSPS HAll – Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Saturday, October 22, 2016

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“Don’t worry about the dogs. They won’t smell your weed, because they’re looking for bombs” So it was that the members of Tall Heights passed security before a show at World Trade Center 1. (A van full of instruments and all that.) While musicians and weed might be a stereotype, the music of Tall Heights definitely isn’t. Ethereal strains of cello, keyboard and guitar combine with tight vocal harmonies to create a sound much bigger than you would expect from just three guys. At times it was hard to tell what sounds were the instruments, and what were vocals, and I say that in the best possible way.

For many groups, vocals are what you do with the lyrics to avoid just being an instrumental band. Tall Heights’ vocals do more than just convey the lyrics: they intertwine with the instrumental strains in a way that takes what otherwise might be fairly standard lyrics and morphs them into a musical unique musical experience. Lyrically their songs are pretty straight-ahead, and wouldn’t set the group apart if offered up with standard guitar/strings/drums. But, Tall Heights is anything but standard in how they not only write for and play their instruments, but how they mix electronic, complimentary tracks with the live riffs.

The thing is it’s all minimalist when it comes to each instrument or track, but they are woven together in a way that produces very much an orchestral effect on many numbers. This was the band’s second time at CSPS Hall, and this time around the audience was satisfyingly large and enthusiastic. We were treated not only to some of their older material, but nearly all the songs off their latest album “Neptune”. The guys helped endear themselves to the audience by talking about the floods (as though their music didn’t do that already), something they don’t have a problem with in their native Boston.

Hopefully they will return to Cedar Rapids before the next flood.

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