will simmons - "him with his head in his hands"
pittsburgh singer-songwriter / instrumentalist / tape label vetern gives six short folk-pop ballads for acoustic guitar and voice. showcases that wills ability to sing and strum is not altogether lost. this release is the first vinyl output since the famed "in so many words" one sided lp on shrimper/catsup plate.
limited to 500, in hand stamped / offset printed covers.
"happy birthday cake for kevin" - mp3
"one man to know"
"praying for pittsburgh"
"first glimpse of the day"
"for vollis simpson"
I've heard Will Simmons before a few years ago (back when I still kept up with the tape-label scene), but this is the first stuff I've heard from him that I really liked. This is very quiet acoustic pop, with gentle vocals that kind of remind me of Peter from DiskothiQ. Though this has a lo-fi quality to it, it's quite clear-sounding. For the most part, this is on the low key side, though the first song is pretty upbeat. The songs are pretty short, which makes sense, seeing as there are six songs on this single! The last song, "For Vollis Simpson", has Will singing over a loop of big-bandy type music. It kinda reminds me of They Might Be Giants' "Pencil Rain"... Oh, and the sleeve of this is quite attractive, and well-done. - indiepages
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it would have been easy to dismiss pittsburgs will simmons as just another singer-songwriter alone in the bedroom with his 4-track if it wernt for the passionate and heartfelt vibe that runs through all the songs on the hand numbered 7" him with his head in his hands. the majority of the tracks are simple guitar-driven acoustic numbers adorned with simmons effective voice, but the tempo varies consiterably, from the chiming one man rock of "happy birthday cake for kevin" to the slow, subtle folk / pop of "one man to know." these six songs perhaps dont break too much new ground, but is still something i wholeheartedly can recommend to fans of slightly folky pop and close followers of the mountain goats. - broken face
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This is a beautifully packaged, hand-numbered 7" EP stuffed with six poppier-than-average songs from Bees Make Honey honcho Will Simmons. They're all pretty straightforward four-track stuff -- Simmons plays guitar and sings in his reasonably accurate, if somewhat quavery style. "For Vollis Simpson" is the sole exception, relying upon a sample -- apparently horns -- rather than guitars. Simmons' knack for richly-drawn lyrical imagery is in full effect here, particularly on the gorgeous "Happy Birthday Cake for Kevin", during which his voice breaks constantly. Not a lot of spectacle here, but some damn fine, heartfelt music - splendid
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Oh, man, another singer/songwriter, right? Sure, everyone who can pick up a guitar thinks he or she deserves to put out a record. But forget the millions of other singer/songwriters you've heard, just for a minute. Because Will Simmons is, without a doubt, the most sincere singer/songwriter I've heard yet. His lo-fi recording is just his voice, often imperfect and wavering in his own emotions and the story he's trying to tell, and his acoustic guitar, which can be sparse and bare on one song and full and rich on the next. And in these songs, Will is pouring his heart out for you to hear. Please don't ignore him.
This EP starts off with "Happy Birthday Cake for Kevin," a lo-fi pop gem that's endearing in its simple pleasantness. With catchy acoustic guitar and Simmons' imperfect voice, this song is fun and yet slightly melancholy. "One Man to Know" is much more mellow and soft, the guitar strummed just now and then to keep the song moving. Here, Simmons sounds in his element, his vocals sure and confident and able to convey so much emotion in these slightly cryptic vocals. On "Praying for Pittsburgh," a song dedicated to his adopted home, Simmons is clearly singing what he sees. The song paints a vivid picture of the city, not necessarily a stellar one, but a brutally honest one, all accompanied by some very deep and perfect guitar.
The B-side starts off with "Self-Portrait (Him With His Head in His Hands)," probably my favorite track here. Although the vocals don't quite contain the emotion of some of his other songs, the guitar is downright beautiful. It's so sparse and lovely, I swear I get lost in this song. "First Glimpse of the Day" is an instrumental, simply lovely acoustic guitar with no layering or overdubs, just Simmons playing softly and quite lovely. The album finishes with "For Vollis Simpson," which uses a sample to provide something of a march-like beat, which gives this song a totally different feel but one that suits Simmons' voice quite nicely. It feels playful and cryptic, unusual yet strangely fascinating.
I don't think I've ever heard someone put so much into a 7" that was obviously recorded in a bedroom or basement on a simple 4-track. Will Simmons puts so much emotion and feeling into his songs, and he has the ability to make so much out of just simple singing and sparse acoustic guitar. It's lovely, endearing, and moving stuff.
And just a note about Unread. This Nebraska label is certainly the best lo-fi label that I've heard yet. Every release is someone you've surely never heard of but should have. Definitely check out the most honest and sincere label alive today. - delusions of adequacy