Beaming with The Widest Smiling Faces

25 Jan

Aviv Cohen

Aviv Cohen is a throwback. He is a consummate musician with a keen ear, laid-back skill, and an innate knowledge of what makes good music. It is always so refreshing being introduced to a musician who knows what they are doing and Aviv – who is the sole employee of the band The Widest Smiling Faces – has good reason to grin.

Aviv, who is based in Brooklyn, NY, has just released his second album Me and My Ribcage, and it features 12 tracks of ambient folk with a hint of medieval sampling and excellent guitar work. Most importantly, the music is light and breezy – like the sunny, cool New York afternoon that is just outside my window as I type this. It is a pleasure to listen to Aviv’s graceful melodies and you can tell that he – and Chris Wojdak, who added textures and assisted with arrangement, on the album – took care to make sure that the layers and sounds remained smooth.

The title track, “Me and My Ribcage” is the opening song on the album.The first minute of the song sends you soaring through light, immaculate clouds, into a denseless, gravity-less atmosphere. The weightless guitar sings a peaceful melody which at the one-minute marks pauses and leads into a soft acoustic guitar and Aviv’s low-fi, tender vocal. His vocal is actually a bit abstruse. I don’t know what to make of his calm vocal. It’s as if he is living in a different time, as if he recorded this back in 1930 – every word vibrates – similar to the way that John Darnielle plays with his voice even thought it is quite different. I actually do get a bit of the Elephant Six feeling as well.

British Progressive Folk groups like The Amazing Blondel played medieval-esque music back in the late 60s and early 70s, and the beginning riff of “Two Lips” followed by the multi-layered, accented vocal feels like this. I catch a little of Syd Barrett in the vocal. I also absolutely love the feeling I get when I listen to this. It is eccentric music – almost psychedelic (more in the Elephant Six way than the late 60’s way). Aviv is also a proficient lyricist and I would like to highlight the ending of the song:

“And two words sting my eyes with doubt brushed under skin and out of mouth (and down) he lied to feel our beating hearts it pulled us back to where we started.
In a way I had to grin we cut the hands from off of it and all his fingers red with stain will lead us to a house unfaded on the reeds.”

Poetic and well done

I am including “Lazy Boy” as my last sampling of Aviv’s music. I love the fullness of this song. Aviv’s music is relaxing and an absolute pleasure to explore. I suggest you take a listen to the entire album which is available here.

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