ExtendedPlay: Four Fascinating New EPs

It’s a funny thing, when I started writing about local music six years ago EPs weren’t really a thing. Everyone was working on their single or their album, usually their album. In the last few years the rise of the EP has exploded, enough that I can fill two pages of JAVA Magazine with six EPs very nearly every month. I love these little postcards to the world from my favorite local bands. It reminds me of collecting CD and vinyl EPs of my favorite artist when I was growing up–which, for the record was a way of life, a necessity, because you had to have every song. As I was writing this review of four new EPs by Instructions, Leonardo DiCapricorn, Pro Teens, and Jaguarsun, I found three more EPs to write about, but I’ll save those for the next edition of ExtendedPlay.

Instructions – Summer Ghost Town

I have loved Instructions since their inception, though I only noticed now I completely missed a release of theirs some how (I’m going to blame TJ for not letting me know about Nylon Letdown). Nevertheless, they have unleashed a brand new five track EP that slays everything that came before it. The starter of “Tony” has to be the most straightforward rock song of their recording career thus far–filled with genuine melodies and an almost pop hook, this is a hell of a change of pace (keep in mind I haven’t listened yet to Nylon Letdown) from their previous catalog. This is downright giddy indie pop rock compared to what they’ve done before and it shows the pure potential I have as far as taking on different approaches and showing off their talent. I’d like to see these guys share the stage with Sundressed again, based on this song alone. “Sven, These Aren’t Your Arms” is the longest song on the entire affair, filled with a maddening bass line and a rollicking guitar track. They break into tropical rhythms at one point and the the entire song seems to be an expansive exploration in sound, seriously one of my favorite tracks on this release, for it’s complicated arrangements through out, if nothings else. Yeah, it may be nearly five minutes long, but it never bores you for a second. “Bed Is Split” kicks off with a fantastic guitar riff and subsequent shoegazing vocals mixed down in the sound. I would be hard pressed between this and “Tony” for the first single, but after half a dozen listens, I’d have to say this track. It has a non-stop propulsion to it that keeps your attention rapt and a hook that stays in your head for days. For some reason, if nothing else, I hope they make a video for this song. The math rock attention to arrangements truly shines on “F0vea”, here too, the lyrics are pretty brilliant–I’m not going to spoil that for you, just listen, it’s pretty great. This is probably my favorite constructed song on the EP, and another candidate for what could be an amazing video, due to the arrangements and manic pace alone. “Mad Clairvoyance, G” closes out this mini-album, once more harkening back to their math rock roots. Still, Instructions have grown well beyond their roots and honestly, the music they are releasing now, while still on the fringe, could well catch the right audience at the right time and take right the hell off. This finale is further proof of that. Every song here is fantastic and this last blast on the EP is the perfect conclusion. It’s not my favorite track, but it may well be their best. One thing is for sure, this EP is the best they have ever recorded and I can’t wait for the next chance I get to catch them live.

 

Pro Teens – Everything So Far

Pro Teens has to be the band I love the most that I see the least. For some reason it just works out that way. I commit to a show, then a couple days before, Pro Teens announce they have a show that same night. Pro Teens have risen from the ashes of St. Ranger, who was one of my favorite rising stars in the local indie scene that completely fell apart. I would be completely devastated by that if Pro Teens had not emerged. Seemingly the brainchild of Andrew Phipps, Pro Teens have delved into a sound that is far more pop oriented and psychedelic in nature than their predecessors. This isn’t so much of an EP as it is a declaration of “This is everything we’ve recorded up until now” and it’s a great start. The “EP” starts with their first released song “Teenage Feelz”.  Which has a very retro sound, the echo, the reverb, the early 60s beatnik vibe. At the same time the lyrics are either a little dark, a little perverse or simply good advice to a young woman. Take it as you will, but to me it sounds like a guy being driven out of control by a much younger woman in the verses and maintaining control and keeping his cool in the chorus.  Musically, it’s phenomenal for a debut, especially the chorus,the harmonies,and  the surf guitar noodling. “Puberty” on the other hand, sounds like Pro Teens were hanging out a lot with Wooden Indian, which in fact, they were. I almost wish this was credited to both bands, right up until the chorus when Phipps gives a fucking spot on impression of early Elvis Costello. I means seriously, the verses are very Wooden Indian, but when the chorus comes Costello himself would wish he had written and performed it. Brilliant. By the time we get to “Goodnight Moon’d” I’m beginning to think that Phipps is a fan of Costello (I have to ask him the next time I see him), except that the arrangements, background vocals and psychedelic wanderings would never have been thought of by that musical icon. A perfectly sublime ballad. The finale is “Contact High” which appears to be another tune heavily influenced by Wooden Indian and it appears that Phipps is enjoying the role of soulful trippy crooner. It appears his contact with the Wooden Indian crew is the high involved here and I fully support this trajectory toward the sky. It may not be a traditional EP, but it’s pretty fucking great. I am confident that there is only more great things coming from this outfit in the next year. Simply dreamy.

 

Leonardo DiCapricorn – Suite 4

Leonardp DiCapricorn are quickly rising on my radar as one of my favorite bands to catch live and listen to in my free time. I recently caught a killer show where they played with Sedusa, Fairy Bones and Harper & The Moths, they were amazing, Brandon’s effects pedal wasn’t working and they were terrified, but it was one of the best shows of theirs that I’ve seen. On this all to brief EP, we have three songs that dedicated to Suite 4 and per the description, “We had some tracks from when we recorded at Parliament, we realized we couldn’t let em just sit around. Lets all remember a really cool place.” Parliament was a cool place and that’s where I saw these kids first and fell in love with their music. One of my favorite songs in the live set is “Burritos” which describes the infinite pain of the choices involved with getting a burrito at a 24 hour drive up stand, sure I wish it was about tacos, but I will take it because I can relate to the difficult decisions involved with making sure everything is right. “J-NO” is next up and its clear that they’ve been spending a lot of time with Playboy Manbaby, but it’s all in their favor. The song is less than two minutes long, but it’s a great centerpiece for this three song affair. The finale is “Dexter” which is seriously influenced by the show of the same name. It definitely explores the wild weirdness of psychopathic serial killers, including cannibalism, shock treatment and methods of disposing the body. A pretty quirky way to end this set, but brilliant nonetheless. Love these guys.

 

Jaguarsun – Yucatan

After listening to everything else here, you may want to grab your bong or vaporizer, get comfortable on the couch, put on your over the ear headphones and prepare to chill the fuck out. Jaguarsun is Eric Estrada, formerly of Avery and other local acts, he has since migrated to Califiornia and has produced his first original EP of heavily psychedelic electronica. In only eighteen minutes he has designed a concept and a style for the Yucatan EP and it’s pretty impressive. This is serious mood music that plays with the waves in your brain, constantly. Yucatan is a pretty fascinating ride all in all and I’d like to turn it into an alarm clock so that I can wake up to it every morning, maybe I will be satisfied by falling asleep to it each night instead. The first time I listened to the EP I was completely sober, but I couldn’t help but notice that by the end, I was completely high. It was the music alone that did that, I was only drinking water and staring at the stars while I listened. Maybe Jaguarsun has figured out how to embed sounds within the ambient soundscape presented to affect the central nervous system in that way, but needless to say, that’s a pretty amazing feat. Yucatan is best listened all the way through, from start to finish, so that you get something of a yogic experience out of the whole deal. Highly recommended for meditation, relaxation, recreational psychedelics and general well being. Please, listen below.

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