The last time I saw The Quiet Ones was in 2005 at Crazy Daisy's thrift store in downtown Missoula. It was a rainy Saturday night and the band of two brothers, John and David Totten, had wrangled a handful of local musicians—Burke Jam and some members of Oblio Joes—to join them in playing some dreamy minor-key pop rock and campfire anti-folk. The Tottens had moved to Missoula earlier that year from Tennessee, and they left Missoula before the year was out to live in Seattle. Many bands have gone a similar path, only to fall apart, absorb into other groups or, if they're lucky, be made kings. (Crazy Daisy's disappeared, too.) The Quiet Ones survived. Not only that, but the brothers added four musicians and released more albums, including this year's Molt in Moments.
The Quiet Ones' music isn't quiet. If it is, it's in the way Reigning Sound or Secret Powers are quiet: powerful and welling, but something you can daydream to. Trying to come up with comparisons is an entertaining exercise. "Holy Lover" could be sung while roasting marshmallows at a lake, but it has an edginess that hints at Nirvana and Liz Phair. The ballad "Mountain Moments" explores an earthier, more mystical folk narrative: "There is hope and fear and joy in things that make us tremble, dear. And in the darkness, sometimes light is there."
Molt in Moments is the kind of album that feels a little amorphous at the beginning, refusing obvious pop hooks to guide you like a paint-by-numbers song. You have to find your way, just as you do in the dark. Let your eyes and ears adjust. That's when the album really shines.
The Quiet Ones plays the Palace Sat., April 13, at 9 PM with Marty Marquis of Blitzen Trapper. $10/$7 in advance at Ear Candy and stonefly-productions.com.