Wednesday, November 3, 2010

EP review: Volcanoes Make Islands - 'Sick City'

Posted by Sasha

There's something to be said for taking the four-song EP format and making it a strong choice. The second release from Volcanoes Make Islands, Sick City, is over soon but reaches great heights in its fifteen minutes. Extremely tall and incredibly dense, the EP is a finely designed grouping of tracks that launches you from the sidewalk to the stratosphere and doesn't let go until the end.

"City of Big Yellers" kicks off big and noisy, with high vocals set against cavernous guitars. Rests and minor melodies build tension, and when the chorus does come swinging in, it explodes on its way up. The momentum carries into "Still Here," a whirlwind of a track that twists into orchestrated chaos with big, steamy guitars and climbing basslines. All throughout, VMI give their sound plenty of space to fill. There's no slicked-over production, no attempts to confine the enormity of electric instruments to a thin digital pipeline. Even in the quietest part of the record, the shrouded sincerity within the first minute of "Granola", the air in your ears fills full. And when the track progresses to giant power chord splashes, the tone set by the initial whispers stands up to the noise. It's a careful balance held perfectly by the skillful composition on all four of these songs.

The fact that I'm having trouble pinning a genre on these guys is a good thing. You'll find a good deal of '90s styling blended together--there are textures borrowed from space rock and Pavement alike--but it's with such sincere urgency and craft that it's pinnacled out into the future. Here's hoping that Volcanoes Make Islands fill an LP with this kind of power.

Check out "The City of Big Yellers" below, and download all of Sick City for free at VMI's bandcamp.

Download MP3: Volcanoes Make Islands - "The City of Big Yellers"

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