basement EP review!
Young Coyotes’ March 2009 EP, Basement, was so named because it was recorded in the band’s basement. Pesonally having been born less than five miles from emo-superstar Conor Oberst’s childhood home and never before having heard Young Coyotes’ music, I was worried Basement was going to be a lo-fi, whiney, sadness-release. It’s hard for me to imagine being more wrong.
The EP focuses on rhythm and vocals – think the dynamic and rhythmic qualities of Animal Collective with some Shins-style vocals thrown in for good measure. The first two tracks on the album – “Momentary Drowning” and “When I was in the Fire” – make the best use of these focuses. Both songs are centered around warm, melodic chants. The chants provide more than just background noise and structure for the tracks. They cleverly play off of lead singer Zach Tipton’s vocals in a way which enhances both. Further, the chants fade in and out to highlight the rise and fall of each song.
Besides the rhythms created by the chants is rhythm generated by the heavy percussion component. The drums – which fade in and out to great effect, much like the background chants – are as important to each song as the vocals. With guitar being the only other instrument regularly appearing on the EP (bells make an occasional appearance), the drums provide necessary support to the vocals. Much like in a classical string quartet, where each aspect of the small ensemble is vital to success, the percussion provides a driving force which would be otherwise lacking.
Structurally, Basement is fairly standard pop. However, the focus on heavy drum beats and clever hooks put it on a different level. Only 17 minutes in length, Basement is a solid, interesting, and fun EP – particularly for Young Coyotes’ first release. The EP makes me excited to hear more Young Coyotes’ material and look forward to a time when this young band breaks out of the Denver music scene, onto the national stage.