Marie/Lepanto was really a logical thing to happen. Songwriter extraordinaires Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster (Water Liars) and Will Johnson (Centro matic) joined forces and in retrospect it almost made too much sense not to do. They have similar songwriting styles, similar voices and hail from roughly the same area. This is where the name comes into play, Marie and Lepanto are two towns about 20 miles apart in Arkansas just south of the Missouri boot heel.
When it comes to the 10 songs on their debut album it’s mostly a quite acoustic affair as can be expected with these two. Songs like Johnson’s “Famished Raven” and Schuster’s “Tenkiller” are about as stripped down as they can get, relying on each singer’s songwriting ability and the mass of their vocals to fill the songs. That’s not to say this album is a sleeping pill though, “Inverness” is a squealing jammy romp reminiscent of Centro-matic and has more edge than anything else here. Some electric guitar adorns songs like “High Desert” and “The Rail” as well but are used in a less aggressive way. “Features/Fights” by Johnson and “Simple Scenes” by Schuster show each writer’s strengths and why this album gels as well as it does. The record flows well with each singer taking turns throughout the tracklist because they compliment each other so well.
At times the album doesn’t feel like much of a collaboration though, each writer definitely makes it clear which songs are theirs, luckily for the sake of the album their styles are so complimentary of one another and it plays very smooth front to back.
Key Tracks: “Famished Raven” “Simple Scenes” “Inverness”