EP Review; The Front Bottoms: “Ann”

“Today Is Not Real” starts with an instrumental feature led by the percussion section. The percussion motive that is introduced sounds as if its utilizing a high amount of reverb to allow the suspension of the overtones to sustain. This is repeated to create the groove of the work. As this continues, the vocalist enters in with a spoken-word technique to give the audience the first set of vocals for the album. This tactic only remains momentarily before the entire instrumental ensemble joins the mix to spin into another small instrumental interlude. In this interlude, the band gives the audience small nuances that gesture to a nice rise and fall musically speaking, which will help the audience ease into the rest of the track. Soon after the instrumentals smooth out with the listeners, the vocalist enters to give the audience the first round of the band’s characteristic style. In this moment, the band gives the audience a simple balance of vocals to instrumentals, which makes for a symmetrical picture. Throughout the work, the band messes with the adding and subtracting of instrumentation to allow for musical break up, which makes certain parts of the selection stick out among the whole. Additionally, the band gives the listeners small musical lines that enter randomly to keep the audience engaged, for they aren’t giving the audience the same exact musical content over and over. As a whole, this was a strong first track for the album because it gives the audience a strong sense of what this EP has to offer while staying true to the band’s normal sound.

“Somebody Else” starts with a progressive instrumental feature that focuses on the juxtaposition of the guitars riffs and silence that is intervened in between the different musical moments. This remains constant as other members of the instrumental section join the party. When they do so, they come together to give the audience a rich groove that will act as the foundation of the work. After the groove has had time to settle with the audience, the vocalist enters for the first time. The vocals that enter follow a slightly more dynamic approach compared to other tracks created by the artist. This is complimented by the simplicity of the instrumental part, which gives the audience the opportunity to completely focus on the vocals when they are in the limelight. Throughout the piece, the band provides small moments of solo instrumental features to break up the different musical phrases when moving from verse to chorus. Towards the middle of the selection, the band spins into a larger instrumental feature that allows a solo guitarist to take the charge before leading the audience seamlessly back to the materials that drive the verses of the work. As the band presses to the end of the track, they act within the constant repetition of the pulse to help keep the momentum of the track popping until the very last second. But wait, there’s more. The band made the audience believe that was the end of the work; however, the band brings the dynamics completely down then builds back up to give the audience a simple, somber instrumental moment that is completely uncharacteristic when comparing it to the previous selection and the material presented on this song.

 “I Think Your Nose Is Bleeding” starts with another instrumental feature that is led by the tones of a synthesizer. The tones that are exposed from the very beginning stretch the extremes of the range that the band has used up until this point. They are able to do so by giving the audience small musical phrases with more content, which will help to capture the audience’s interest from the get-go. This remains to be just about the same with the addition of the full instrumental section so that the steady pulse can be created and retained. The vocals will soon enter after this, and when they do so they hold true to the characteristic vocals that have become the standard for the band as well as this album. Throughout the first verse, it can be heard that the band utilizes minimal instrumentals, which gives the audience the opportunity to focus on the vocals with small hits to accent certain moments in the lyrical point. As the band moves to the chorus of the work, it is heard that the texture is expanded to allow more of the instrumentals to shine, but for the most part, the instrumentals remain minimal. As the band moves towards the end of the work, the band utilizes homorhythmic features that help to drive the lyrics that the band is continuously repeating so that they stick with the audience, even after the first listen.

“Pale Beneath the Tan (Squeeze)” starts with a heavy pulsation that is prominent between the entire instrumental ensemble. This helps to establish the groove of the work while giving the audience a quick sense of the vibe of the selection. The band rides this wave for a little while, as they do, they add in small rhythmic and melodic figures to spice up the general musical picture that is being portrayed for the audience. This keeps the audience intrigued as the band leads them to the entrance of the vocals. When the vocals enter, it is heard that the instrumental texture decreases significantly in volume and density to allow the vocals to reign with little interjection. The instrumental section is used to emphasize the groove that was established at the beginning, which keeps the momentum of the piece moving forward as the band progresses to the chorus of the work. The chorus of the song begins to pick up the pace slightly as the texture of the instrumentals almost doubles. This allows the band to expand on the rhythmic materials that they’ve already provided while giving them some new items here and there. It is notable that throughout the selection the band includes small, ornate timbres that helps to add new musical tones for the audience to attach to, while also providing some lighthearted nuances to the track. As the band begins to push towards the end of the work, the band toys with the adding and subtracting of instrumentation to give musical dimension, which provides the audience a nice sense of contrast, which will help them wish to continue to listen as they near the end of the selection.

 “Lonely Eyes” starts with vocals from the very first second of the track. The vocals follow a simple vocal contour, for they mainly remain in a fixed set of vocal tones, which makes for a smaller range. The instrumentals during this introduction are rather minimal; to further, the main instrumentals that are heard come from the string section, and they are only present to keep the steady pulse of the work consistent. As the band begins to move throughout the work, it is heard that the instrumentals are going to remain rather stagnant throughout, so that the vocals can stay near the forefront of the piece. However, the instrumentalists do provide the small musical nuances that they are known for, which compliments the vocal contour quite nicely as the listeners make their way throughout the selection. As the band finally reaches the chorus of the work, the instrumentation begins to pick up slightly, for more of the instrumental ensemble becomes present to the audience. In this moment, the listeners are given the opportunity to hear the band’s full ensemble sound, which will increase their interest because this section provides a high sense of contrast when comparing it to the previous section. Towards the end of the track, the band includes a small instrumental feature, which is a nice switch, for the instrumentals have taken a backseat for the majority of this selection; thus, this gives them the chance to shine once more. In all, this song is overly repetitive, which will make it easy to learn for the listeners.

 “Tie Dye Dragon” starts with a simple rise and fall of single tones that gives the audience a sense of ease before transitioning into a more progressive instrumental interlude. This interlude starts with the focus on the string section, who creates the pace of the track rather promptly. After this is established, the characteristic vocals enter with another static vocal line. The first verse remains rather minimal on the whole because the range of both the vocals and the instrumentals remain fixed until the band transitioned into the chorus of the work. Once the band arrived at the chorus of the work, more of the instrumentals joined the party to give more color tones to the selection as the vocalist began to add some dimension to his vocals as he extended his range. Towards the middle of the work, the instrumental ensemble added accents to the off-beats of each musical phrase to add slight juxtaposition to the work. This gave the listeners a new idea to attach to as the band diverted into another small instrumental moment. This moment transitioned into a softer second provided by the vocalist where his vocals provided more of a clear timbre to them rather than the more nasal affect that is most-often utilized. This moment took the audience back to the chorus of the work, which will drive to the very end of the album. This was a standard selection for the artist, which would make this a decent track to end the album with, but it wasn’t a groundbreaking selection to write home about either.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 4 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score for a few reasons. The first reason I landed on this score is because the band sets a groove from the beginning of each track, and they hold that firm until the very end, which makes for a successful release. The other main reason that I landed on this score is because this is a solid representation of an album one would listen to when they are just laying out and relaxing, which is perfect for the season upon us. Overall, if you are looking for a short album to ease into your day: this is it. Nicely done!

*”Ann” was released on May 18, 2018 through Wuakaskole Records.

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