Thursday, February 3, 2011

The End of America - 'Steep Bay'

You know that guy in your dorm that keeps playing “Wonderwall” by Oasis incorrectly on his acoustic guitar? Fuck that guy. Acoustic singer/songwriter outfit The End of America is way better than that douchebag, and they don’t have to rely on The Beatles, Tom Petty or Natty Light to get your interest.

Presumably good acquaintances Brendon Thomas (Foreverinmotion), James Downes (Call It Arson) and Trevor Leonard (Triangle Shirt Factory) formed the group around one nifty idea: Travel somewhere in the Estados Unidos, let inspiration strike and then thrown down some tracks on a home recording device. In this case, the trip traveled to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. While camping, they conceived and recorded the nine songs that constitute Steep Bay.

This rapid fire writing style means Steep Bay is at times easier to respect than it is to like. While the acoustic sound is all over the place (Opener “Are You Lonely” = Elliot Smith, whereas “Running” = Dispatch), the album generally has a lived-in feel, stemming from the organic quality of the recordings. You can hear the guys count in from song to song. Sometimes the levels aren’t quite right. Sometimes the lyrics lack depth. But the harmonies and passion are tight.

In spite of it quickie roots, Steep Bay is an earthy record that I suspect will play a lot better once the snow melts for good. These sons were written round a campfire, and they could like it. While the album could use some of the grit that made Call It Arson compelling, its frills-free aesthetic has a charm all its own.

No comments: