First Listen is when I listen to an album, or a song, or work one time through. The very first time and regurgitate my initial thoughts. No going back to tracks, no pondering on deeper meaning...its just my very initial impressions. Take it or leave it.
The first tune starts with a flamenco vibe to it. A little ‘Sultans of Swing toned down a bit’ kind of feel. Its upbeat and drives along pretty well. I tap my foot, bop my head. 'House of Straw' is going to be the standout track on this record and I can tell right away that is the case. A little drawn out, but it puts the bands ability on full display right away, and in the case of this song its a good thing.
The vocals on the second track and third track don’t really do it for me as much. The songs are just not as exciting as the first track, a little stale. The lead singer has a good voice, its pleasant, not pitchy, but the range is kind of just static for me. The second song drags me along to the “End of the Road” rather than me running along it excitedly.
The final song “Mutiny”, has a different feel to it altogether. It’s has a bit more of a moving and distressing feel to it. I dig it. It works for me. The two part vocals in the chorus part works well for the vibe of the track. I enjoyed this song quite a bit.
The band has worked out their harmonies to a T, both vocally and instrumentally and it shows in the performance. They are very tight with their playing, the stops, the way they play off of one another. The musicianship is great. There are some really great uses of acoustic guitar sprinkled throughout the EP. I think the playing is truly the strong point of the record. Lyrically nothing really catches me. It’s good songwriting, but nothing too poignant or brilliant here that I latch onto and sticks with me a long time after the listen.
Over all this collection of songs is pretty good. It certainly doesn’t blow me a way and finds my mind wandering a bit a few tunes in. I think that predominantly has to do with 3 of the 5 tunes being over 5 minutes long and the other 2 being over 4 minutes. There is something to be learned about “radio friendly” arrangement of tracks and then lengthening those tunes in a live setting. That’s not to say that the songs aren’t good, just a bit longer than necessary and perhaps something to consider the next go around. The bookends of the EP are the strongest points with the middle losing me a bit.
I think the band would be a fun one to catch live. I am sure there are extended jam parts, they likely have a good time with each other on stage and it filters to the crowd. I would recommend folks from the Rhode Island area go check them out for a live show for sure. From a recorded work standpoint, it just falls a tiny bit shy of the mark for me to be blown away. Nor’easter is good, but not terrific.
Check out the band Highway’s End on bandcamp: http://highwaysend.bandcamp.com/