Wednesday, 11 August 2010

EP Review: The Joe Public - This Army

The Joe Public's latest release comes in the form of 5-track EP This Army. A swanky little cardboard case with some cool graphics adds to their growing professional image and reputation, and the EP certainly doesn't disappoint on the audio side either. And let's face it, that's the most important part. Hopefully you've already got yourself a copy, but if not, here's hoping my track by track review below will ensure your next few clicks are along to the iTunes store to order it for yourself!

Track 1/This Army - It's the title track, so I want to be shaken up and made to listen. I'm a drummer; it's a drum fill that introduces the EP. Cool, I'm already interested. It's an easy-going riff-driven intro that leads nicely into the first verse. I get the feeling that the track is better live, as the vocals sound a little distant from the rest of the band almost, but as soon as the chorus kicks in Jake Meeking's vocal talent is displayed in all its glory. The bass and drums really drive the verses which are cleverly layered; dropping in hints of guitar before the chorus kicks in once more and I love the little drop into the bridge section/solo. It's incredibly minimal before the chorus is back once more; I'm not sure if, as the listener, it was perfect or if I was really crying out for something bigger, longer, just a bit more mental. A few more listens will, I'm sure, satisfy my hunch, and the half-time outro is cool.

Track 2/Elements - Layers is the key theme here at the moment as far as I'm concerned; the intro is once more built up as the verse strips back but it's definitely a tried and tested method and certainly works well. The vocals here are beautiful, almost haunting, and the guitar work in general is superb; really nice picky riffs, one behind the other with a mixture of acute sliding notes and volume sweeps which really set the mood for the track. The chorus doesn't hit me as hard as others have done but this is perfect; sometimes easing into the chorus is just what the song calls for and that's definitely the case with Elements. I had to listen through to the solo twice; once more it's short and although it starts off as you might expect there's an almost atonal movement in the latter part which, although musically-speaking doesn't clash, somehow feels like it does to me as a listener. But then again, I'm just a listener and not a guitar player. Feeding back into the next part is a nice little showcase of the band's song-writing abilities and the final chorus is equally pleasant and transporting. I really like this song and again, can't wait to hear the live version.

Track 3/Riffola - With a name like this, I'm not sure whether to expect a stagnent opening riff that is very much the basis of the song or...not perhaps. In actual fact twenty seconds of dark, flangy guitar work parts to a broken snare fill into a huge opening section; the cymbals are really washy and dull, in fact the entire sound of the kit is as if a lo-fi compressor has been dropped from a great height, giving the effect of hearing the drummer play along in the next room which happens to be made of very thick glass. It's a great feel and really compliments the sound that the band are attempting to establish. Anyway, back to the song, the drums are now back in the room and the bright hi-hats married with the swampy bass create a really nice rhythmic-atmosphere. It's an interesting choice to put an instrumental on an album, let alone a five-track EP and I can feel it's place seems most at home leading into a track onstage. That's not to say, however, it isn't suited for the EP because I think it definitely works. As a piece of music it's dark yet clever and I like it.

Track 4/Heightened - A contrasting fun and funky riff opens up after a little sampled something (an unidentifiable female voice?) which pulls up the whole mood of the EP and I feel myself sitting up and really listening again. The melody of the riff is almost Indian and wouldn't sound out of place if played on a sitar, exploring some strange fusion of Eastern and Western musical cultures. The drums are driving along in the verse with short stabs of low bass and strong vocals. They're short and re-visit the main riff often...but I'm fooled, second time round they take a left turn and lead me down a winding guitar-laden path...and then the riff's back in. It's clever and interesting, provably not predictable which is important. The bass then takes a more prominent position, the stabbing notes a lot higher up the neck and, therefore, more sonically audible which again adds to the layering affect the band seem to have perfected. I love the backing vocals feeding the lead vocals towards the end and the big finish; it's a great and masterminded ending.

Track 5/Take It Back (Bonus Track) - The final track kicks a great Muse-feeling verse with driving bass/guitar riff before the lead guitar hints back to the original riff leaving the bass chugging along on its own. The vocals are once more strong and believeable and my head's nodding more to this one than it has done previously. The track just sounds great, there's no other way to describe it really. The riffs pack a great rhythmic punch along with the drums throughout and the vocals really do sound special. Midway through the momentum momentarily drops but I'm not left lost for long; the chorus is back and is as big as ever. I wasn't expecting the winding, half-time solo section but I love the level of the guitar in the mix, it's perfect. The double-chorus at the end and the final hints of the great riff really top the track and indeed the EP as a whole off brilliantly; it's a cool ending and I want to go straight back to track one.

Don't forget to check out The Joe Public for yourself on their Myspace page or have a listen to the EP for yourself at their ReverbNation page. But please make sure if you do go and have a free listen that you support new and upcoming music and buy yourself a copy from the iTunes store and even get along to a show near you! Enjoy :)

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Thanks for taking the time to write :)