Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
An April album for your showering September. It was recorded in April 2014, into a humble black box of home recording prowess: Outer Rooms and the story of their self-titled EP. Self described epic art rock needs an intro like that.
The new four track EP drives a station wagon to the edge of the Canadian Rock cliffs, then swerves back towards power pop villages, leaving tire marks in the shape of Michael Ondaatje novels as they go. That self-recorded sound is impressive, never limiting, and the heavy tracks sit comfortably in the ears. The piano and drum recording is particularly good: it definitely sounds basement bred, but it’s mixed exquisitely (that would be Andrew at Above the Jewellers at the console for all those tasty levels). They’ve also made some stellar cd art, something you don’t see every day.
The leadoff track “Ribbons” is a slow build in the style of U2 epic. Matt Frewen’s excellent drum fills captivate and Justin Rivet’s bass keeps the listener rivetted to the groove. The changes in key, dynamic, vocals, are all very natural. Even the dropping of the band name in the song’s lyrics is not heavy-handed, it just slips in there.
“I Left My Eyes” is this year’s Guess Who hearthrob song. Well, it’s got eyes in the title. But the song does have some killer minor chords poured into a palm-muted breakdown; that’s a seriously ominous pairing with dark lyrics concerning strange worlds. The piano melody at tune’s end has a Wilco vibe as well — and that’s the last band name drop in this review, promise.
“Domino Backyards” is easily the killer song of the EP. A trip back home after moving to the dirty city is the story being told. The text of the lyrics is guided tightly by the verse, pre-chorus, chorus sections. The pinched, squawking guitar work takes the lead, depicting the inner tension of the speaker. It’s psychological, it works, and the track has a beautiful resolution.
The finale “Rawhead” might sound like the intro song to an urban cop show, but it’s actually a high drama involving cicadas and tinkling piano noise. It’s great.
These Outer Rooms show a great deal in the course of four tracks. They push the sounds to all corners of the rooms, inner and outer, and come together with impressive, passionate song. Check out the EP streaming now, check it out in its limited cd run, and check out the band at the Cavern on September 19th.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)
Top Tracks: “Ribbons” , “Domino Backyard”