Friday, January 30, 2015

Echo Courts - "Ice Cream Social" Melts In Your Mouth- Captivating Stories in Contrasting Styles

Echo Court's sound is steeped in such an embraced romance that they feel more like eruptions of emotions than well crafted songs. The deep well of feelings comes through in the cadence of the lyrics that stand alone as beautiful poems. As you listen to their latest work "Ice Cream Social" there is a decidedly tonal shift between the swaying cool indie rock of songs like I've Been Down, Transient Pleasures and Mary and the more tattered and torn reveal of Fast Ellie, Pistol and Candy Nova. This partition of styles and attitude does not hinder the impact of this collection of songs. It, instead, give it a wonderful contrast, a push and pull, a dark and light (or less dark) due to the split singing and lyrical duties of Kelly Fahey and Jacob Dardin. Kelly tells his stories on the first three songs I refer to and Jacob on the last three.

In I've Been Down (for example) Kelly's vocal delivery feels like a man deep in thought but with muted emotions (at least on the outside). When he sings, "I know I'm wrong but by now your so far gone... I can't picture you holding the hand of someone new...What should I do?" the feeling is hurt but cool. Stay cool as to not show the pain. The music is bright and sparkly but cool too. In this way, Kelly's triad of songs has deep down inside that "Smiths" thing happening in some small way.. the cold proper Morrissey thing deep down somewhere, not in the sound at all but in attitude. In fact, Kelly's vocal attack soars in a wonderful way.  The progression and stirring musical chaos at the end of the song is dreamy. Kelly's songs have as much a current indie sound as that 60's influenced early 80's Brit Pop / post punk sound. This is no more apparent in Mary that jams with that "Mersey beat" feel.

In contrast, Jacob's tone as on the evocative Fast Ellie feels like earnest Americana Folk with an almost 50's sock hop torture ballad tone stirred in. Emotions are stripped bare and laid out on the table with it's fair share of stoic barbs as he sings, "She takes pride in her tracking skills...She likes the hunt.... And baby Jesus gave you good looks but tonight that's not enough." For me, it is instantly captivating. The blunt nature of the storytelling, the music swelling with pure melodrama and desire culminates into a cinematic climax. In a similar, but more vast way, Pistol has dynamic dashes of hope (false and otherwise), "All those secrets that you keep... your mouth is a faucet... it's empty, it leaks." There is a lost in a carnival feel. Jacob's songs have a touch of Springsteen and a heavier touch of Father John Misty (whom I love).

I have focused so much on the two singers / storytellers and failed to mention the stellar musicianship by all as well as the production flourishes. It all works utterly and completely. I can listen to "Ice Cream Social" on repeat a dozen times and feel more each and every time in the nuanced performances. The funny thing is that each time the stories get bigger too.
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Robb Donker


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