The Almost

No Gift To Bring EP

Written by: TL on 28/12/2008 23:46:43

When Aaron Gillespie released his first solo-record under his "The Almost"-moniker, I was of course fast to check it out, to see if the talented drummer could perform outside of his home-band Underoath, and in front of the stage rather than the back, but to be honest, the songs on "Southern Weather" never got me to a point where I felt like the praise the record received was justified. Thus my expectations for the new "No Gift To Bring EP" weren't exactly staggering, but seeing how Underoath did put out one absolutely brilliant album earlier this year, my faith in Mr. Gillespie was slightly reinstated after all, and after listening to the EP, I can tell you readers that he didn't disappoint this time around.

While "Southern Weather" was a rather straightforward alterna-rock record, "No Gift To Bring EP" is pretty much entirely acoustic. This fact, along with the five tracks that feel a bit short when you've heard them through, makes it seem like the EP is more of a collector's item or an experimental side-dish than a full-blown The Almost release, which is almost a shame, because to my ears, it sounds much better than "Southern Weather". The record opens with "Awful Direction" that takes points straight out of the rulebook of City And Colour, and the subtle acoustic chords and simple arrangements leave Aaron's voice to shine. As a singer, he fills out that room much better than before by singing in a softer manner than his trademark emotional cry, which really requires the dense instrumental atmosphere of Underoath to sound at home. Ironically this gentle approach sounds much more sincere and passionate than before, as you can practically feel the emotion drip on you from every second of the opening track.

The following "Little Drummer Boy" is easily as good, with its nervous yet uplifting mood and playful Bright Eyes-ish words. It sounds weird, but hear it and the words/babble "Parampapampam!" will suddenly find their way into the end of every sentence you construct in your mind. It's followed by "Amazing, Because It Is" which has been slightly reworked since its inclusion on "Southern Weather" but honestly it still suffers from the same symptoms of "too much wailing", and easily seems like the weakest track on the EP. Then things are better with the cover of Casting Crowns' "Your Love Is Extravagant". I haven't heard the original so I can't say for sure if things have changed radically, but this is a strictly acoustic-guitar born version of the good kind you'd play to your girlfriend, maybe even on your own with your own guitar, given that you're not above such displays of affection. In any case, the fifth and final track on the EP is an electronic rendition of "Dirty And Left Out", also formerly of "Southern Weather", which immediately brings Death Cab For Cutie to mind. While a better track than "Amazing, Because It Is", the songwriting is still inferior to the effective simplicity of the new songs though.

In the end, like mentioned earlier, the five tracks here feel like a bit little even for an EP, and I guess that whether or not "No Gift To Bring" is going to find its way into the collections of others than current fans is going to depend on its price. I have no idea what it costs though, so rather than telling you how much 'bang' you get for your 'buck', I'm going to rate the material for what it's worth on its own, and leave the economical evaluations for you to handle on your own.

7

Download: Awful Direction, Little Drummer Boy, Your Love Is Extravagant
For The Fans Of: City And Colour, Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes
Listen: myspace.com/thealmost

Release Date 01.12.2008
Tooth And Nail Records

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