Discovering Atlanta folk crew Little Tybee might've been somewhat accidental but in a short amount of time the band has shot up into my favorite bands. That's what made the delay of their latest album For Distant Viewing a bit maddening. Set to be released almost directly after 2011's Humorous to Bees, the band instead decided to workshop the songs some more and that release date steadily transformed to this year. It kind of goes without saying but Little Tybee's For Distant Viewing rapidly became one of this year's most anticipated albums for me - even before I heard any of its more recently released singles.
Why? Because I was incredibly curious how the hell they would improve upon Humorous to Bees. And yet on For Distant Viewing they did just did that. Beginning with the title track - a rather short but no less epic feast of what's to come in its pseudo-suite, the band proves that its their album really is about the journey as "For Distant Viewing" reels you in with its enchanting slow burn and siren-like "For distant viewing..." calls. Perhaps my favorite track on the record, "Mind Grenade", follows and endears with its occasional dip into some rather comedic. "How could it be? I'm harboring some broken keys. And it seems that she's gone and changed the locks on me.", Brock Scott laments and yet it's a rather positively handled break up tale. It's a track where everything Little Tybee does so well is hosted in one song - containing Brock Scott's clever turns of phrase, Nirvana Kelly's sweeping string ornaments, the band's busy but not overwhelming musical fills.
For Distant Viewing's charm is in that any of its songs can drastically become a completely different one. Take "Herman" for example, starting with sweetly spun string lines and Scott's trademark croon, it rather subtly becomes a rock scorcher. It's a feat that becomes more and more utilized as the album spins on and on. Away from mostly narrative tracks like "Mind Grenade" and "Boxcar Fair", the band's given freedom to set off on its own synchronous divergent paths. While Humorous to Bees certainly did a good job of including all of the bands various members, For Distant Viewing actually allows them to take the spotlight; culminating in the full on instrumental jam of "Left Right".
On For Distant Viewing, Little Tybee takes their rare form tendencies and become far rarer still. Their grooves and jams are tighter, slicker, tastier even. The band allows itself far more musical interludes which really allows you to get a sense of who the band is. You really can't pigeonhole Little Tybee as your standard folk rock band as the band members various musical backgrounds truly converge on this album. The band has come such a way that it even takes the track "Hearing Blue" from their debut Building a Bomb and updates it - the result being far more impressive than the original. It'll never quite be clear to fans what we missed out on in For Distant Viewing's 2011 incarnation but it's obvious that the year and change spent working on its has worked out in simply the best way. For Distant Viewing is a special record, half supple chamber pop gems, other half jazz-inflected prog-rock jams; proving that genre is secondary when its comes to the execution of incredible musical ideas.