Short Takes on 4 EPs

Batwings Catwings - Peacock Collection EP

Batwings CatwingsPeacock Collection EP

Indian Gold Records

http://claytv.blogspot.com/

L.A.-based Batwings Catwings recently released this EP on Indian Gold Records and the band throws down 4 energetic and enticing tracks where dance-pop pep and melody mixes equally with punk rock menace and noise. The urge is great to shout along with vocalist Dana Poblete’s sing-talking exclamations, all while moshing to the dynamically churning rhythms of Clay Johnson on drums, Pepper Glass on guitar, and Josh Crampton on bass.

Dana is ready to rumble on the chanting anthem “Jealousy” as she sing-shouts “It’s getting heavy / It’s getting out of control.” The guys have an assured command of the rhythms so that the tune doesn’t devolve into messy chaos, but treads that borderline with detuned guitar belligerence that recalls “Aneurysm” by Nirvana. At one point Dana exclaims “I want your full attention.” She’s got it.

“Endless Summer” erects noisy slabs of guitar, drums, and cymbal crash on the verses, then maneuvers into a dreamy vocal chorus with Dana sighing the song title longingly. The EP’s title song is the band’s most developed number with Dana’s vocals alternating between a Kathleen Hanna-styled inflection and a moodier tone that verges on melancholic. The constantly choppy churn of guitars, drums, and cymbals keeps the energy high and reflects the modus operandi of the band.

VTG - Love Is Letting Go EP

VTGLove Is Letting Go EP

Self-Released

http://www.vtgmusic.com/

This 6-track EP is from the San Francisco-based artist Lawrence Stone, otherwise known as VTG. He’s a composer and multi-instrumentalist who released his debut album So Beautiful People Look Away in 2004 and who is currently working on his next album.

This electronic and industrial rock styled EP chronicles the disintegration of a relationship and starts off strongly with “I Lie Pretty” as an undercurrent of dark electronics merge with guitar grind. VTG sounds like Trent Reznor, sighing on the verses, lightly twisting around the lyrics, and then gasping out in rasping desperation with the dominating chorus of “I lie pretty in your bed / and we’re not goin’ anywhere.” Oohing male vocals punctuate the jags of guitar and foreboding electronic atmosphere.

“You” is more upbeat and dancefloor-oriented, but still features a distorted grind of guitars at the start, before smoothing out with electronic blips and bleeps. VTG croons and pants through the erotically-charged words “I’m gonna eat you alive…” The stealthy feel is akin to a Nine Inch Nails track like “Closer” and VTG has professed that Trent Reznor is a major influence on his sound.

The down-tempo, low-key confessional “Goodbye” is a change of pace, with murmured, vulnerable vocals from VTG as he sing-talks “Each time we say goodbye / I let a piece of you die.” Mournful cello, a jingling tambourine beat, undercurrent of bass, and finger-snapping help to shape the tune into a different mold than what has come before, with a whirling build up of guitar that comes in mid-way through to pick up the pace.

After those 3 songs the EP loses its electricity, marching through tracks that revel in noise instead of rejoicing in melody. Shadowy electronics and an ominous vibe continue on the verses of “She Kills Me”, with louder guitars and shouting vocals comprising the chorus. The same pattern of soft verses and strident chorus segments can be detected on the last 2 songs, with VTG sing-talking in a plainer tone on “Clean Me Out”.

Bambara - Dog Ear Days EP

Bambara Dog Ear Days EP

Emerald Weapon Records

http://bambara.bandcamp.com/

This Athens, Georgia-based band isn’t afraid to mix the quiet with the loud to exciting effect, melding introspective softness with aggressive guitar noise and kinetic rhythms. The 6-song Dog Ear Days EP (or is it a mini-album?) came out last autumn on Emerald Weapon Records and it starts off with the urgent rock number “Repeat After Me”, its rhythmic dynamism consisting of distorted guitar frisson, fingered bass, tambourine shake, and desperate, half-buried vocals from Blaze Bateh (Blaze’s brother Reid Bateh and friend William Brookshire round out the band).

“Drag Hesitation” starts off drifting on a slow tempo of submerged, soothing vocals, brushed drums, and tambourine tap, with contemplative piano notes surfacing now and then, until it turns intense for a moment with distorted guitar buzz, cymbal bash, exclaimed vocals, and a prominent beat. The speedy rocker “Stay Gray” whisks by in a blaze of fiery guitar and 2 lines of male vocals, one sung in a mid-range tone and one in a lower sing-talking register. Energetic drums and cymbal crash form the blood-pumping chorus as Blaze yells out wordless exclamations.

The agitation builds to a conflagration on the discordant and disorienting final 2 tracks, where the band tips into chaotically noisy sonics. Based on this EP, the band must put on one incendiary live show.

Adam Rader - Any Way I Can EP

Adam RaderAny Way I Can EP

Self-Released

http://adamrader.com/

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Adam Rader’s debut album is slated for a mid-2011 release and in the meantime he offers this 2-song EP that includes a cover of the Mac Davis-penned and Elvis Presley-sung “In the Ghetto” and Adam’s own pleasantly upbeat, radio-friendly “Any Way I Can”.

The EP titled song pretty much contains all the parts necessary for an accessible pop song with mass market appeal these days, including the jaunty beat, the briskly strummed guitar, Adam’s casually warm and engaging vocals, the uplifting chorus, the emphatic piano notes, the now-requisite “break” in the song with its bright whistling and kazoo bit, but interestingly, Adam puts those “parts” together in a non-verse/chorus/verse structure.

Adam also employs some left-of-cookie-cutter-center lyrics on the verses like “…when we’re sharing skin / we’re deep beneath the covers…” and even lightly swearing at one point. The words of the chorus are pure universal sentiment though as he thrills “My heart’s all yours.”, but it’s sincere enough to win over at least some grumps.

Adam shows a different side of his talents on the lyrically-powerful “In the Ghetto”. While the words aren’t his own, he put his spin on it as his Southern roots emerge in the vocal inflection (Adam was raised in Louisiana and Virginia). The mid-tempo beat and strummed guitar provide a low-key setting for Adam’s gentle and clear vocals.