Do you have any idea how awesome this is?!?
Of all of the bands we’ve championed in the past, the one that probably deserves a break more than any other is the venerable Havalina (formerly of the Rail Co.). They’ve seen countless line-up changes, weathered label woes and failures, and survived tour debacles (usually involving a less-than-trustworthy van). But Matt Wignall, Orlando Greenhill, et al. have always soldiered on, churning out one release after another of their wonderfully idiosyncratic music.
Although their early music got them (wrongfully) pegged as a swing band, subsequent releases found them delving into spy themes, country & western, jazz, American folk, Spanish ballads, psychedelia, lounge, and probably a couple of styles still waiting for names. And of all of their releases, the one that many people still talk about is the stunning Russian Lullabies. Originally released in 1997 on the band’s now-defunct Jackson/Rubio label, the album was a lovely blend of Django Reinhardt-esque jazz and Russian folk music inspired by the writings of Dostoevsky and frontman Wignall’s journeys through Eastern Europe.
Sadly, the album has long been out of print… until now. Earlier this month, Wignall placed the entire album on the band’s website for people to download. That’s right… if you’ve never heard Havalina before, or you’ve given up hope of ever hearing this delight of an album, now’s your chance — just click here.
Earlier tonight, I was discussing the notion of nostalgia, and I find myself becoming very nostalgic while listening to this album for the first time in a very long time. Songs like “Tundra” and “Twilight Time” take me back to past Cornerstone Festivals (where the band’s marathon midnight sets were the stuff of legend) and old friendships with such force I get goosebumps. And as soon as a song like “Kaliningrad” comes barreling out of the speakers, I can’t help but grin from ear to ear!
I realize that a lot of the music covered on Opus is of the sort that would fly under most people’s radar. However, I can’t understand for the life of me why Havalina hasn’t received more attention than they have, and listening to Russian Lullabies has me just as confused as ever. They just seem cursed with bad luck I suppose, but they keep pressing on, regardless of the circumstances, and releasing great music. Someday, I hope all of that perseverance pays off tenfold.
On a related note, Havalina is currently finishing up their latest album, titled Pacific. According to Wignall, it’s unlike anything they’ve done to date — but that could be said of any of their releases. No word on a release date, or on a label for that matter (although you can hear what is presumably a short clip from the album during the homepage’s Flash intro). If you want to be kept in the loop, the band has a message board where you can probably get all of the latest scuttlebutt… while listening to Russian Lullabies, of course!
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.