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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

THE END — Me, sipping my tea, as I prepare for my last few days at Northern. Finishing college is a tad more anxiety-inducing than I expected, but it feels good nonetheless.
Opinion — A nervous editor's reflections on time spent at NMU
Harry StineDecember 8, 2023

All eyes on Presley for fifth album, ‘Cyclops Reap’

My introduction to any sort of journalistic activities began with writing music reviews at this here publication.

Sharing and talking about music has always been a great passion, and putting that discussion onto paper has always presented a challenge for me and provided a certain degree of catharsis.

However, as I became more involved in creating music of my own over the past couple years, the concept of reviewing the work of others quickly lost its appeal. In all its glorious forms, artistic expression can be intensely personal.

Subjecting the artists I respect to an under-informed examination for other people to read just doesn’t sit so well because, well, what do I really know about what they created or why they did it?

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But, sometimes there’s someone I just can’t resist bringing up for conversation. Tim Presley, who writes and performs under the moniker White Fence, is one such creature.

A friend of mine turned me onto White Fence a little over a year ago by playing me a couple tracks off of Presley’s second record as WF, 2011’s “Is Growing Faith.” The sonic qualities of Presley’s work are what had my attention first; undeniably born out of decades past, his sound often takes the jangle of ’60s pop and builds on it with dense layers of melodic experimentation. Sometimes it’s plunky keys, other times it’s a guitar with some crazy reverse-delay effects.

Regardless, the core of a lot of WF songs have the quirky take on pop you might find on a Kinks record, but like the aforementioned group, they are far from predictable or bland.

And there are a lot of songs. Since 2010, Presley has released six albums and nearly a hundred songs as White Fence, including “Hair,” the fruit of a righteous collaboration with Ty Segall. His latest batch, “Cyclops Reap,” is a smooth addition to Presley’s already healthy and expansive catalogue.

“Cyclops Reap” bears the bones of any other WF record: lots of bright, beautiful, shiny guitars, Presley’s anomalous, soft-but-solid voice, and the occasional storm of fuzz and drone that pops up to swallow everything whole.

Although it seems to be a familiar and obvious thing to note in the story of any musician’s successive albums, the production here is a step up from before. WF records always bear a relatively high level of auditory grit, undoubtedly a product of Presley’s attraction to four-track recording practices.

But this record has shed some of the haze, and removing a little of that shroud doesn’t hurt the songs.

The first track on the record, “Chairs in the Dark,” starts true to form — a brief keyboard drone interrupted by a mashed-up collection of sharp guitar notes. But by 15 seconds into the song, the tracks hows itself to be a really pretty tune.“Beat” starts to close in a swirl of delayed yelps and wandering guitars, but pulls itself back together at the end for a relatively clean finish.

“Pink Gorilla” is perhaps the most in-your-face track on the record, which places the drums high in the mix and really beefy, fuzzed-out guitars. The usually-present acoustic rhythm section is just barely audible in the background.

“Pink Gorilla” is a strong contender for the album’s top spot, but that one goes to “To the Boy I Jumped in Hemlock Alley.” It’s a relatively sad song, but got some really nice slide guitar and twinkly keys floating around in the background.

Like his records before, “Cyclops Reap” has a lot of great earworms for anybody who’s got a taste for dusty-sounding pop music. Presley’s dedication to his craft, exhibited by the quality and quantity of his output, is what keeps the name “White Fence” in my pocket, ready to pull out when someone asks, “What’s your favorite band right now?”

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