Ear Theory

Ear Theory

Written by: TL on 29/05/2012 14:12:28

Let's be honest: Starting a succesful band is fucking hard. Between the moment somebody picks up a guitar, to the moment they hit the frontpage of Rockfreaks.net with an album review graded more than 7, there are a ridiculous amount of problems to be solved. Just one would be to find a handful of likeminded creative musicians, each with an artistic vision of their own, and getting them to commit and collaborate and to figure out how to weave their ideas into a combined piece of art.

Then there are bands like Ear Theory, a quintet from Virginia who - judging from their self-titled debut album - have decided to either completely disregard the problems it may cause, making an album with a bit of an identity crisis, or to use at least this one album as an experiment, exploring possible musical directions for the future. You see; on "Ear Theory", these guys offer a couple of songs in "Bliss", "Aurora, 1911" and "Good Night" that are quite clear attempts at instrumental, progressive post-rock-ish music, yet opener "Corrosive Cacophony" - which has the most awkward drum beat entrance of recent memory by the way - adds both boy and girl vocals though the only lyrics are "whoa-oh", and littered across the middle of the record's eight tracks there's also a summery indie rocker in "Shutter Eyes", and a couple of darker, post-punk-ish tracks in "Ghost Train" and "Redemption" - one with no vocals, the other with male cleans.

Reserving overall judgment for a moment, while of the mentioned songs it is "Shutter Eyes" that is the most conventional and arguably most easily enjoyable effort, with its bright, light-hearted attitude, the album's finest point is surely the tranquil, melancholic "We Are Not Alone". On here, the band's collaboration with guest singer Shannon Keeter (whose vocals also dominate "Shutter Eyes") is at its best, as the interplay between her singing and the growing piano melody is probably "Ear Theory"'s most striking moment all together.

Despite these highlights however, I think it must be observed that apart from "We Are Not Alone" and "Shutter Eyes", the remaining tracks are pretty at the very best, where the band has probably rather been aiming for stunningly beautiful. I'm guessing lacking experience is a hindrance here, as the compositions seem more like some written by beginners trying at post-rock, when compared to some of the more sweeping and impressive offerings you can hear from the genre's more established powers. Furthermore, while the band writes on facebook that they want to "create music combining an eclectic blend of genres and sounds with no limits or expectations", I can't help but to think it works against the concept of an album, to mix tracks in the way they are on here. Call me conventional, but when I put on an album, I want and expect a cohesive piece of works with some sort of sensible progression traceable through its twists and turns. I don't want a ragtag compilation of experiments, and that's what "Ear Theory" sounds like to me. If you want to leave your band free to explore wildly different genres at different times, I think that's fine, but I'd suggest giving each adventure its own single, EP or album, or at least finding a way to intricate very different songs more elegantly on a single release. Moreover, I'd advise just trying to get better as composers in general, because even when Ear Theory's post-rock endeavours are at their best here, they still sound a bit like the band is grasping for grandeur that is still slightly outside of their reach.


Download: We Are Not Alone, Shutter Eyes
For The Fans Of: Mew, Gracer, Lydia.. maybe sort of an odd mix of Lemuria and a poor man's 65daysofstatic?
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 19.01.2012

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