As seems to be the case with so many bands, Cold Sides got its start as a side project and quickly developed its own unique identity. Zeke Graves of Three Stigmata and Robert Biggers of The White Octave originally got together to create sample-laden melodies. Others musicians soon joined in, and the group’s live outings were well-received. After a homemade EP drew raves, the boys found themselves in Jerry Kee’s studio laying down tracks for a full length.On their self-titled debut, Cold Sides create a dark, murky landscape where mystery and doubt, like Spanish moss, hang from every tree. Cold Sides is more straightforward than the EP, but still compelling: Rich minor-chord guitar lines weave around dirge-like bass and keyboard tones, while muted drums lurk in the shadows, ready to explode in a wash of cymbals. Biggers’ vocals, though somewhat thin and flat, are still moving and emotive in a world-weary sort of way. The album’s textures reveal themselves over repeated listenings–if you have headphones at your disposal, they add a whole new experience.

But it took a while for all of this to seep in. Cold Sides doesn’t attempt to grab the listener with bombastic flare. This is one of those special records that may take a while to grab you, but once it does, the spell is mesmerizing. These young musicians are carving out their own niche in the ever-expanding “Chapel Hill Sound.” You’ll do well to lend them an ear.