Despite their clear and obvious talents, some groups are inevitably trapped in that gray area between basking in the limelight and limping along as average white noise playing almost unnoticed in the background. All Them Witches—with ‘Sleeping Through the War,’ at least—seem to have fallen into that shapeless quagmire.
Thankfully, for their sakes, the music isn’t all that bad. It has a trippy, psychedelic taste that certainly pleases the pallet. But, the problem is that the flavor is only given in morsels and is never enough to fully satiate your taste. And because these guys have the sound of the Airborne Toxic Event echoed through molasses, they lack a sense of retention that just pushes them onto the back burners of our attention; when it fades into the background, we don’t even realize that it’s gone. The eight tracks pop with a certain appeal toward a specific fan base—those who enjoy heavy guitars, echoing vocals and a glacial pace—but it’s their same lethargy that holds them back. Alanis sang about irony, but the Witches have mastered it: they make lazy music filled with energy.
‘Sleeping Through the War’ seems to build toward the final song. Maybe this was planned, maybe it wasn’t, but the eighth tracks seem to tie everything before it together in a slow-burning expression of vocal and instrumental skill. Everything you liked and disliked for the half-hour leading up to the end is wrapped into a jazzy flow that hints of darkened performances and calloused fingertips playing for their souls.
All Them Witches casts an intriguing spell on its listeners if they choose to not just listen, but to hear. The only thing stronger in this music than the adrenaline that pumps through it is the tryptophan bubbling subtly within its mix. At some points, you’re living it up like a soldier of rock and at others you find yourself sleeping through the war.