The Torn ACLs – Cedar-by-the-Sea EP

The Torn ACLs
Cedar-by-the-Sea EP

In the sea of CD submissions I love to read all of the hand written notes from bands. Sometimes something catches my eye – a turn of phrase, how flattering the note is, the handwriting, or, in the case of one member of Seattle, WA based The Torn ACLs the number of exclamation points in relation to total punctuation usage. Three to one, to be exact. Who ever wrote this note just seemed to be so earnest, and the group’s debut EP Cedar-by-the-Sea is only four songs so I figured what the hell.

It seems this disc was recorded in a house when the band was a duo (William Cremin, Miles Ranisavljevic). Said house has since burned down, but the recordings were saved from the fire. Way to go guys! Although Cedar-by-the-Sea doesn’t blow me away, there’s something special brewing here. The first track, “Reputation”, has a jaunty stop/start rhythm and features back and forth vocals of a conversation that goes something like this: “I swear I’m good for it” / “Why don’t you pay me back?” / “The check is in the mail” / “I’m going to break your legs”.

“The Audacity” is a much moodier tune, and the various instruments are used here. The Torn ACLs list a saw in the liner notes and I wonder if that is what is used to give the eerie backdrop to this song. “Brother Twelve”, the band’s six and a half minute opus tells the story of a 1920s religious cult, and lends the EP its name. “Obsessively, Compulsively” rounds out the four pack of songs with a repetitious melody that gently sways its way to a cleansing chorus.

Cedar-by-the-Sea is definitely too short. I’d love to see what the group will come up with now that it is a quartet. I imagine new songs will be more expansive, more deeply textured. But the four tracks on this EP are a great new beginning for a young group. Maybe not quite a phoenix rising from the ashes, but a batch of songs to be proud of for sure.