For a time, The Standstill, formerly called Skippy and the Bellbottoms, consisted only of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Jeff Maynard, who would go into the studio alone and record himself playing each of the instruments. However, wanting to give live performances that sounded like his recordings, Maynard decided to hire a lineup of band members. In 2008, The Standstill’s lineup consisted of Maynard, guitarist Jeff Gilbert, bassist Nathan Brown, drummer Joshua Russell, and vocalist Christine Hale. Maynard wanted to record a few sessions with this lineup for archiving purposes, and with the help of Arrison Kirby of Knoxville Tennesee's El Deth Recordings, the material for what would later become Endless Winter was recorded in live sessions in Kirby’s home studio. Shortly afterwards, the band members went their separate ways. In 2012, Kirby came across the recording, and worked with Maynard to release it as an album. Endless Winter was released by El Deth records in November of 2012.
Maynard possesses a sense of maturity with his songwriting; each composition was obviously not written with haste, but likely developed over time in order to get the lyrical and musical blend just right. The Standstill’s overall sound would probably be best defined as earthy acoustic rock with just a notion of jazz. There is a sense of fragility in each track, as the subject matter often deals with the intricacies of human relationships and experiences, but there is a definite sense of confidence in both in the composition itself and the process of playing it.
Adding a second vocalist was a smart move on Maynard’s part; the male/female harmonies offer a new dimension to the music. “Coma” is enriched by the inclusion of a second vocalist. A haunting duet between Hale and Maynard, “Coma” describes a literal or metaphorical state of being aware of one’s surroundings, but not being able to participate or communicate. Hale’s eerie repetition of “All I need, all I need, all I need is to know” between Maynard’s verses accentuates the illustrations of emotional isolation. Overall, this is a well-constructed song with clear intent and excellent execution.
Because this album was recorded as live sessions, the sound quality is a bit lacking. A few times during “The Situation,” Hale’s voice is barely audible above the guitar and percussion, an imbalance which distracts from the listening experience. This and other small imperfections would, of course, not exist had the intention of this recording session been to produce a record for publication.
However, this recording’s unique journey to album status is just as much a bolster as a weakness. Perhaps because creating an album for publication was not the plan at the time Endless Winter was recorded, nothing about this record feels like filler noise. Each track is a work Maynard wanted to remember creating and playing with this lineup, and therefore each one feels like a piece of “best work” from this group of musicians. There are no easy hooks within refrains and solos, no hastily written rhymes within the lyrics, and no weak tracks added in order to make a complete album out of a few decent ones. Overall, this is a collection of quality work that, besides the quality of recording, possesses few weaknesses.
1. Shock O’Barack
3. A Blind Eye
4. Early Morning Friday
5. I Don’t Live Here
6. Early Morning Friday
7. Where Is My Mind?
8. Idea Of Home
9. The Situation