At their recent Lee’s Palace gig, Avery Island passed out three-track demo EPs to any and all hungry for a musical treat. Naturally, I snagged one and brought it home to load into iTunes, where it has now made itself at home with the thousands of other songs I keep there. Keeping in mind that the tunes are demos – meaning that production could be more polished in the future and so on – allow me to give you my perspective on this sampler.
Horsepucky: Kicking off with a catchy riff, lead track “Horsepucky” demonstrates the more melodic rock influences of Avery Island via its guitar work and transitions. An intriguing listen melodically. Lyrically, it’s a story of a relationship gone wrong and, more focally, self-destruction in its wake. “You’ll regret the day you ever laid eyes on me/Using excuses to fall apart…” A heavy Brand New influence on this one as shouted vocals layer over Lauren’s rich, soulful voice. “Take the stand and make my case/Play the victim...”
Lock Me Up: Again, kudos to the band for crafting ear-catching opening guitar riffs. This one’s as strong here as it is in its live incarnation. The use of vocal harmonies is intelligent and lovely on the ears; it’s a testament to a band with cohesion. A dark little tune suited to a brooding mood, it features clever metaphors delivered over a driving melody. “It’s the places you go when your soul needs hollowing/And a drunken lobotomy that keeps me from following…” My one critique is that Lauren’s a little too quiet in the mix at times, muddying her vocals beyond deciphering.
If You Want Me: One of the things I love about this one is the intro – just Lauren, with the band kicking in behind her. This one has a very danceable melody – it evokes the 80s, specifically Depeche Mode and New Order. Again, Lauren gets lost in the mix when quiet, and while it may be intentional to have her fall back, she’s too far back. “If You Want Me” is a sinisterly seductive number, beckoning forth the listener and begging for an end to romantic games: “Enough is enough/If you want me, come and get me/I’ll be waiting up…”
Final Comments: A demo EP should do two things: 1) showcase a band’s sound and range; and 2) show off its strongest songs, in order to hook listeners as new fans. In terms of these goals, this EP succeeds entirely in that first goal. Having seen the band perform twice now, I have a good sense of their sound and vibe, and it translates well here. In terms of the latter, while these are definitely strong songs I really enjoy, I can think of at least one tune that not only demonstrates further range, but is a strong work that garners positive reactions at gigs.
For a demo, the quality is solid: aside from a couple of quieter vocal moments being diluted in the mix, everything’s very balanced. In terms of quality of music, these are great, catchy songs that grow on you with each listen – and you will be compelled to listen again. Very well done for a band that’s continuing to rise.
Final Grade: A-
For a free download of “Lock Me Up”, cruise on over to Avery Island’s bandcamp page!