There’s something to be said for being able to consistently release great music every year. In fact, since becoming a scene-wide name two-and-a-half years ago in late 2009, the members of The Republic of Wolves have released five albums, three under the band’s name, one from the solo moniker of Gregg Andrew DellaRocca (American Gospel) and this latest release, Foundry, which came from the band Mason Maggio and Christian Van Deurs started prior to The Republic of Wolves, Tigers on Trains. The pre-TROW releases by Tigers on Trains were rustic indie-folk albums featuring unique instrumentation and dual vocals, which were accompanied with some rough production.
Perhaps that is the greatest thing that Tigers on Trains could have taken from the breakthrough of The Republic of Wolves. The production of Foundry is remarkably better than the previous Tigers on Trains albums, giving it a fuller, studio-produced sound. What the band retains from their previous albums is the fantastic lyricism, great instrumentation and gentle vocals, making Foundry the band’s best release yet.
Songs like the opener, “In the Atlas Cedars,” “Myrrhine,” and “There is No Prize” would have sounded out of place on previous Tigers on Trains albums, with their electric guitar solos and clean production, however songs like these are what make Foundry shine, complementing Maggio and Van Deurs’ voices perfectly. If anything, Maggio’s voice has never sounded better, as it seems more naturally suited when accompanied by the softer sound of Tigers on Trains. It’s also nice to hear it complemented by Van Deurs’ higher-pitched voice, which doesn’t appear on the TROW records. Also, the more polished sound allows the solos from Van Deurs to stand out more clearly, showing off his superb talent.
While there is some differentiation from previous records on those songs, there are plenty of tracks for fans of the early Tigers on Trains albums, like the slower-paced “Long Sleeves,” which features more solo singing from Van Deurs, something that was featured more on earlier records. The instrumentation of “Washington State,” which features what sounds like banjo and glockenspiel, also recalls the earlier records.
Fans of The Republic of Wolves that aren’t necessarily familiar with the pre-TROW work of Tigers on Trains might be a bit shocked at first to hear the clean, shimmering folk styled tracks on Foundry. But beneath the shift in instrumentation and sound lies the same fantastic vocal delivery and great song-writing, making for another fantastic record from the boys. For a band that gained notoriety under bizarre circumstances and rumors, the boys of The Republic of Wolves have done great to establish that they can not only hold their own as a band, but also strive for more by tackling a variety of sounds and pushing boundaries farther and farther with each release from their camp. And with all these releases coming just a few years into making their name, it won’t be long before the sky is the limit for these young men.