Reviews in 200 Words

Archive for the ‘EP’ Category

The Carolinian, The Explorers Club

In EP on November 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm

The Explorers Club is a little bit lounge and a little bit classic—reminiscent of Brian Wilson, for sure. In advance of their album, “Grand Hotel,” (due out in the spring of 2012), The Explorers Club is releasing a trio of EP “suites.” Each EP has three songs: one cover and two original tracks. The Explorers Club is working with Mark Linett, who just finished the mix on Beach Boys’ “SMiLE.” That makes perfect sense. These guys have the Beach Boys’ sound. The first suite, “The Californian,” was released earlier this year; this, the second suite, “The Carolinian,” features the Classics IV hit, “Stormy.” It is so polished—so remarkably close to the familiar sound, but with a new shine. The other two tracks, “Sweet Delights,” and “It’s No Use,” will make you want to go find a sweetheart to waste the rest of the day with. It’s a mild November—breezy and hanging onto autumn. But even if it turns nasty out (and it will), these songs make things all right. They’re short and seemingly familiar. The final suite will be released in December, “The New Yorker.” Where would anyone rather be during the holiday season than New York?

-Micah Ling

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Long Live the King, The Decemberists

In EP, podcast on November 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

This is, perhaps, the very definition of EP: it’s exactly that—an extension of the ever-popular The King is Dead. The titles even mesh. And the EP is just as likable as the album that came out back in January. The six-track collection starts with a murder ballad—it’s reminiscent of Jack White—it’s old and new at once. “Row Jimmy” is a well-done Grateful Dead cover (is that ironic?) It feels like summer in some out-of-the-way bar, even when you know winter is coming. “I 4 U & U 4 Me” is why The Decemberists are loved—it’s nearly impossible not to just love the sound here—not to want to hear it over and over. “Sonnet” rounds this tight EP out. Traditionally, a sonnet is known to be a “little song:” it tells of some sort of problem and turns toward a solution. If those horns aren’t the solution to whatever sort of problem you may be in the middle of, well, keep reading sonnets—keep listening to this EP. Life has its ups and downs—it’s little struggles that are always littler than they seem. On Spotify, you can listen to Long Live the King and The King is Dead back-to-back. Do that.

-Micah Ling

Check out the latest Beat Jab podcast via iTunes

Skate Away by Seth Pettersen

In EP, podcast on October 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

This is bottled sunshine. It’s surf, sand and skateparks. And it’s familiar territory for this Southern California songwriter. With a short, sweet EP Seth Pettersen reaches beyond pop sentimentality and surf guitars to plumb the deeper waters offshore. But even in the deepest waters, this lifelong surfer knows that sometimes a sandbar pops up and you can put down your feet. Survey the scene. Behind the sundown glow and the salty hair, Pettersen sees something somber and reflective. At first he’s ready to run from the hurt. “I think I know what to do/to take away my safety blues,” he sings in “Biscuits (Disarm Everything). Skate, surf, run – for the first half of this short EP it’s flight over fight. But toward the end of the record Pettersen faces up those fears and the songs take on new life. “Mother is a Moth” is a beautiful dirge. “Once in a While” is a hula funeral fueled by the slide guitar work of Neal Casal (guitarist for Ryan Adams’ now defunct band The Cardinals). “Is it better to turn than to face your fear?” In answering that question, Pettersen swims away from shore only to return again riding the tide.

-Jay Cullis

Seth Pettersen

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‘+’ Wise Blood

In EP on September 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Astute ears say musical collagists like Girl Talk ditch classic chord progressions in favor of cut and paste sampling. They stitch together musical touchstones and obscure segments, repurposing the bits and pieces into a wholly new DNA. It’s an intricate art, requiring an encyclopedic knowledge of … well, the history of music, really.
Wise Blood is flying under the radar, skimming jetsam off the surface of a musical ocean for his(?) own ends. Unsigned and currently distributing a free 5-song EP on a Bandcamp website, there’s little information about the mystery producer behind the music.
But what music it is – speaking for itself in hazy bursts. A stream-of-consciousness rap lilts over a strange sonic landscape. It sounds like the jingles of old TV show themes blended with the stomp of a John Bonham drumline or the “Hey-la!” chorus of The Beatles’ “Hello, Goodbye.” Everything comes from somewhere else – even the artists’ stage name is ripped from the title of a Flannery O’Connor novel.
It’s all rhythm and swagger. “I can’t explain why I shine and no one else shines,” a voice says at the outset of “B.I.G. E.G.O.” It definitely shines – and defies explanation.

-Jay Cullis

Wise Blood


Blood Bank EP, Bon Iver

In EP on June 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

The songs on this EP will put you under a spell. The last song, “Woods,” is a slow, steady mantra: I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind. I’m building a still, to slow down the time. It’s multi-layered, voice on top of voice, synthesized. It goes on and on and changes every time. And when it does end, you will have meditated–you will have released any and all clutter. Everything will be simple and calm: still. “Blood Bank,” has a narrative that’s so odd it makes perfect sense: a blood bank could be sexy and significant in so many ways. These aren’t the stories you hear in most songs: they’re complicated and risky. They’re short films. They’ve got characters and situation. They give warnings and advice: mostly, it’s to relax, enjoy, take in. It makes sense that this is considered “extended play,” because it’s unlike anything else: outtakes you like more than the feature film. Bloopers that are eerily stark and telling. Footnotes that explain it all. It’s been a long day or week or life: it’s been full of concentration–it’s been draining. Blood Bank might revive, might add new color.

Bon Iver/Jagjaguwar