Noise Ratchet – S/T EP

These boys have been busy, but their strategy seems to be paying off. To support last year’s debut full-length, Til We Have Faces, the band completed tours with the likes of Dashboard Confessional, Piebald, Hot Rod Circuit, and others. The album ended up turning enough heads to earn the band a deal with American Recordings, home to acts like System of a Down, Johnny Cash, Slayer, and the Jayhawks. But before bidding the indies farewell and heading off to the majors, the guys found time to record six songs for this self-titled EP, five of which are brand new and one of which is a revamped version of a previously released number.
Noise Ratchet blends layers of crisp guitar one on top of the other, consistently blending the pretty little melodies with the big, crunchy riffs. In similar fashion, the vocals come from multiple sources and take multiple approaches, from wispy crooning to slight growls. Songs like “When Losing Ends” and “New Room” highlight these techniques, showing off the band’s airy rock at its best. The drums and bass create a rhythm section that is sometimes aggressive and driving, as on those two tracks already mentioned, occasionally quirky and playful, as on “Fiction Arms,” and occasionally mid-tempo and lulling, as on “From Your Lips” and “Desire.” Those slower, sappier songs are a bit less interesting and much more predictable, but they do a fine job of bringing some diversity to the disc. “A Way to the Heart,” the original piano ballad version of which can be found on Til We Have Faces, is an atmospheric and acoustic-tinged tune complete with cutesy female backup vocals, wispy male falsettos, and lyrics about “angel’s tears crying for you” and whatnot. It’s a bit over the top in the cheese department, but it shows how good this band is at writing a batch of songs that includes both gritty rockers capable of getting people to bang their heads, and dreamy pop lullabies worthy of adult contemporary radio.
If you hadn’t heard of Noise Ratchet until just now, you can expect to hear more. These hardworking lads have vowed to spend the majority of their coming time on the road, the major label debut is scheduled for early 2004 with a full-length to be released by American, and the band’s songwriting capabilities seem to be getting sharper with every release. Everything seems to be lined up correctly, and it will be interesting to see what Noise Ratchet can accomplish with a little more support behind them.