As our so-called winter quickly turns into a short-lived spring, we wanted to catch up on a batch of recent local EPs that certainly deserve attention. Wine and Revolution deliver their debut effort with the noble 6 track Edward the Magneficent, and The Georgian Company drops their much anticipated first eponymous album. We also couldn’t overlook Leatherbag’s quick four tune disc released in February, which finds one of our favorite songwriters continuing to delve deeper into the classic rock and power pop archives with a new ensemble, the Pretty Tuffs. In his usual prolific fashion, he’s already working up another EP to be released soon. And finally, we revisit the geographically challenged and multiply imbalanced Wax Museum Pandemonium for their attempt to fuse their split ends into a 5 song 7″.
Wine and Revolution - Edward the Magnificent (SR)
Edward the Magnificent, the first offering from Wine and Revolution, will surely catch those familiar with the band off-guard with deft production and stylistic comfortableness atypical of a debut EP. Harnessing the energy that the band developed in their live shows, the six song EP fuses Rock n’ Roll with a subtle gothic darkness that you might expect from a black-and-white horror film. Which is to say, Wine and Revolution take certain cues from the better half of The Clash’s catalogue. Laid back vocals and a choir of self-taught backup singers compliment a musical style that favors a catchy hook and a simple rhythm over blatant studio effects and technical proficiency. “Trees” and “Eager to Sail,” the EP’s most promising tracks, benefit most from the backyard-band ethos, but “Left Up To The Sea” sees the band willing to pull out the dance-beat tricks and experiment in other directions. Quirky without being “novelty,” and rootsy without being “revivalist,” Edward the Magnificent is a fine appetizer from a band already comfortable with their sound, churning out good music while looking for the next big gig.
- John Michael Cassetta
Leatherbag - Tomorrow EP (SR)
Following up his 2008 full-length release of Love and Harm, Leatherbag’s new Tomorrow EP is the latest milestone in the singer-songwriter’s career of constant development, which has now brought him from weary Dylan comparisons to these four new all-electric tracks. With hum-a-long guitar riffs and lyrics that are just as easy to carelessly sing along to as they are to relate to, the new songs are as Reynolds puts it, “Just some sensitive boys tryin’ to have some fun.” Teaming with other sensitive boys the “Pretty Tuffs” (featuring members of Jude/Ross, Tammany Hall Machine and Sons of Hercules, some of whom Reynolds worked with while producing the self-titled Jude/Ross album due out soon), the full ensemble leaves nothing to doubt with heroic guitar solos and melodies only Power Pop can deliver. Reynold’s lyrics continue their trend of honest looks at a not-so-honest world, just as willing to cite the emotional power of autumn leaves as that of Tom Petty. The EP does lack a feeling of completeness, which only improves the probability that this is a mere snapshot of a halfway point between Love and Harm and whatever it is that lies ahead for Leatherbag.
- John Michael Cassetta
The Georgian Company – The Georgian Company (Pants of Fate)
Put together from the remnants of local favorites Just Guns, the Georgian Company plies much of the steel-heavy, alt country flavor of the former outfit, though this incarnation is more expansive and principally propelled by George Irwin. Irwin’s vocals, like the music, is often simultaneously smooth and mellow, but with rough edges that make the tunes memorable. Opener “Everything to Gain” weaves out of the initial feedback a beautifully easy ode, very much a Seventies country-rock vibe reminiscent of Jackson Browne. Irwin’s range is limited, most comfortable with the mid-monotone vocals, but he often pushes into higher levels, like on the chorus of the pulsing “Meter,” and it adds an underlying anxiety to the tunes that serves them well and is balanced by the ever-present female backups. Lead single “Apology” may be the most polished of the tracks, and hints at the promise of their sound, hearkening Will Johnson and a bit of locals Mice and Rifles with the band’s percussive intensity. Irwin has a distinct knack for integrating excellent and soft melodies into oft kilter fluctuations that grab the ear, especially on the stripped down “Trainwreck” and racing, nostalgic pull of “Seventeen,” which closes the debut EP and suggests the Georgian Company are on to a very promising sound.
- Doug Freeman
Wax Museum Pandemonium – North/South (SR)
Wax Museum Pandemonium probably can’t do anything normally, and given their eccentricity, it’s not surprising that an album from the group would require something a bit outside the norm. The band is actually two bands, split asunder by musical Mason Dixon line that pits brother against brother, Clem Poole helming the group’s Connecticut faction and Noah Poole representing the southern, Austin half. Fair enough. The idea behind their North/South 7” was to have the North record songs written by the South and vice versa, and it turns out they are all remarkably similar. WMP’s sound, on both fronts, is a kind of gypsy punk that leans more towards the White Ghost Shivers than, say, Gogol Bordello. Noah (South) contributes three songs to Clem’s (North) two, and if there is a distinction, it would seem that Noah’s writing (or perhaps Clem’s interpretation) tends toward the more insane. Side A openers “The Giant Squid” and “Peeing in the Corner” are performed by the North, the former delivering a dark, accordion lilting sea shanty to the latter’s more irreverent, mandolin and madness breakdown. “Assassinations” (South), meanwhile, employs a moaning myriad of backup singers for a haunted house waltz. It’s all a bit disconcerting and unhinged. The two tunes on Side B offer the vinyl’s better half, however, especially “International Calls” (South), which tames the insanity a bit for a more straightforward melody on mandolin, with Noah croaking out verses to a softer female harmony. But “The Courting of a Sorceress” heads back into the unquiet northern fields conjuring medieval mobs of pitchforks and torches into the fantasy. So Wax Museum Pandemonium delivers a slab of wax that’s guaranteed to knock you a little out of whack, but then that’s exactly what you’d expect.
- Doug Freeman