Saturday, November 24, 2012

EP Review- The Van Goghs - Escape of The Jellyfish

Escape of the Jellyfish, the latest EP by Chicago based The Van Goghs is like a wonderful musical maze. Each song takes you on surprising detours. You can hear elements of alternative rock, Ska, folk, indie, psychedelia and 60's British Mod all done up with a progressive pop mentality. Penquino is a party of sounds with a thick vocal harmony throughout and the sound moves effortlessly from a Brit rock jam to a dreamy mellotron-ish ending. The abrupt change does not feel so. It feels right, though you do feel a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Daring musical departures like this make the songs on this EP so damn good. A Big Bang Conversation is appropriately named. It starts off with a crunchy bad ass dirty guitar riff and then becomes a little bit more poppy. It is full of musical breaks and really tasty guitar lead breaks that  have a late 70's garden rock feel. The second track Higher to the Sun with it's stair stepping guitar sounds, swelling organ, Keith Moon-ish drumming and clean vocals is unabashedly upbeat power pop and then it ramps down beautifully into almost discordant guitar sounds.

Just when you think The Van Goghs are solidly moving at 60 miles an hour you hear the lovely Our Best Plans. With it's airy guitar picking, haunting melodica, dreamy slide guitar and plaintive vocal harmonies it feels like the foggy banked tree lines in Big Sur. It inhabits that same classic dream folk space as Led Zep's Going to California. Besides the masterful musicianship and songwriting presented, Escape of the Jellyfish is also well recorded and produced. It has a really nice EQ- great bottom end sounds and no annoying bits of misplaced mid-range. This polish in production and ability to craft really good songs  is evident throughout this EP but maybe most apparent in the shape shifting Dots in Space and Time. It is the last track and feels very much like an amalgam of all before. It has it's own musical arc that can feel as progressive as a Mars Volta song one second and then as drug induced trippy as the Doors. The vocals (like the instrumentation) feels more strained and edgy than most of the other songs. It is a amazing ending to my formal introduction to The Van Goghs.

I look forward to following this band on their journey and hope to see them live someday.

Robb Donker

The Van Goghs Facebook

The Van Goghs Escape of the Jellyfish

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