Around the world, e-mails come in consistently. Bands want us to review their latest EP. From indie labels to bedroom projects, I have compiled several of these EPs together to talk about them. These are the highlights of the summer.
Stories and Observations Of Argus Madur
Rating: 3.3 out of 5
Little Owl takes the Moby approach, introducing their EP with “Black and White.” No, not the “Next is the E” era Moby, more like recent doomsday accolades from his album Destroyed. “Black and White” is that twilight desperation when you think that you are defeated and life has dealt you one more blow to the head. It’s something proud yet dangerous and a little comforting to a song like this. You can immediately gauge a sense of Little Owl’s sincerity in his vocals, which should remain in the forefront because the background harmonies are a little lackluster and out of tune on the low end.
But it’s not enough to deter you from the charm of Little Owl’s musical twinkle. “Tucked Away” seems simple enough with the ukalele, but his vocals presents a context of nervousness, cramming words in until things smooth out as the song expands out.
“Naturally” is folk-driven but quirky enough to make you turn your head sideways. Like street musicians wandering the city landscape, “Psalms” is the wear on their shoes, and actually the best thing to come from this album.
A full length is in the works at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone. With that in mind, who knows what will come from it, but I can only expect the results to be good and worth keeping an eye out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Nestled under the Texas sun, this instrumental band delivers much like the glimmering West Coast indie instrumentalists of the ‘90s did with the welcome appendage of keyboards. But their release comes with mixed feelings. Their opener, “False Light” is nothing like the rest of the EP. The song changes gears faster than they should and the instruments flop around with an uncontrolled chaos. The shredded notes make for something that is less than desired to the eardrum. Rawness in this situation is not what the band needs. What they need to do is find a way to hypnotise you by finding their groove.
But all of this changes. The rhythm takes form. The keys begin an out of body experience and the guitars keep things moving. “Salvo” and “Table Monster” become some of the more incredible instrumentals you will find.
And “Roadside” glimmers like the stars in the sky. Exchanging electric for acoustic and percussive overtones make this song a pleasure to enjoy even if it is only a minute and 18 seconds. It is not until the end of “Electric Blanket” where things get revved up, but through peddle effects, distortion and better control of their emotions so that you will loose it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
V.I.T.R.O.I.L. is a concept album created by Milano’s A.S. Hereb that explores the alchemist path to enlightenment. Only 15 minutes in length (a rarity amongst albums that explore ambient and downtempo electronica), for a self-released homemade recording, this EP is a joy to listen to.
Although the songs are broken up, you don’t get a feeling that her music is broken and disenchanted. “Cauda pavonis” is the transition. “Lux cycni” is understanding through the chaos of change. And “Ovum phoenicis” is persevering.
Using coldwave drum synths and pulsating waves of electronics, there is a fashionability and enchantment to the compositions that all lead to an ellequent use of layering.
Zoos Of Berlin
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Someone has a serious crus on David Bowie because “Haven’t Eyes” screams of the thin white duke. And expect the essence of late ‘70s glam rock to weigh own on this EP. Trevor Naud and Daniel I. Clark weave vocals together with such coolness and vibrancy, Pallister Chant is cool without having to try.
It’s a quick listen. Four songs total, but each song is packed with the fruitfulness of the indie prowess Zoos Of Berlin are capable of and enough charm to make you crave their music once over.
It’s almost sinister that this EP is free.
Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Nowhere yet is it time for us to be reminded that the colder months are just months away and snow will one day be in the forecast, especially in August. But with Broadcaster’s “Snow Party,” their jangly slacker rock beckons to be that great back to school jam and power house punch, even if it is a song about winter.
And what Broadcaster does is that with a song like “All Your Friends” mingles the best of early R.E.M. and Please To Meet Me era Replacements. The guitars are as bright as any mid-day cruise with the top down. It’s a sound that brings remembrance to the mid-’90s alt rock soundtrack of flannel shirts and urban gatherings before and after class.
If you are into the style, expect nothing but solid songs throughout this EP.