Swing an EP in my jeep:: Dark Mean and Dave Norris & Local Ivan

A few EPs have been occupying my time lately and there are only so many hours in the day in which I can write about music. Rather than offering up a few lines to each in truncated posts spread out over the week, I decided to go all Uncle L and deliver and ep of (free) EPs.

Dark Mean - Music Box EP

Last year, this Hamilton band came out of nowhere with one of my favorite EPs of the year. Frankencottage was a crazy fusion of banjo, electronics and tempo that made it impossible to sit still whenever songs like Happy Banjo or the title track came on my iPod.

This time around, the band is using the same elements but experimenting with a darker, denser sound. The title of the closing track (Dark Banjo) is probably a give away of the emotional state they now reside in, but when you listen to the four songs on this EP you can’t help but think the band has grown up emotionally in the last year. The songs don’t run with the recklessness and freedom of youth; no the horns and piano, group vocals and restraint travel with the songs like the weight of heartache.

The arrangements are more intricate, and as a result, less immediate. The banjo that danced in and around the electronics and heavy kick drums now meshes with more sombre tones. Instead of chair dancing whimsy, Music Box finds the band testing their limits. The country-fused Acoustic and orchestral melodrama of Piano & Beat will shock fans of their last record, and honestly, this EP is one that will probably take time to grow on you.

That’s not to say the songs don’t stack up to their previous efforts; Dark Mean is just coming from a different place this time around. The smiles and darting electronics bouncing around your headphones have been replaced by sadness, but, as we all know, life isn’t smiles and sunshine and music shouldn’t be either.

MP3:: Dark Mean - Piano & Beat
WEB:: http://www.darkmean.com/
D/L:: http://darkmean.bandcamp.com/album/music-box-ep-2010

Dave Norris & Local Ivan - No Scuttle

Admittedly, I’m new to Dave Norris and his musical endeavors but the Ottawa native strides forward with a confidence all too often lacking in today’s music scene. In ten-minutes, he gives you four songs that grab you on first note and show how much potential Dave’s new set-up has to offer.

The flowing melody the band delivers on Whatever’s Wrong With Heather is a terrific hook (rim-shot please!) to kickoff the EP and the percussion and synths that bulk up the catchy Look Out! show how crucial the support from Local Ivan is to the results, but it’s Dave’s voice that holds everything together and moving forward. The change of pace and gradual build of Jack Nicholson shows the control the band has over their sound and the use of electronics, strings and warbled synths on No Scuttle probably shouldn’t fit in with the other three songs on the EP, but it’s just a rewarding as any other song.

Four songs and ten minutes is not long enough to really gauge how Norris & Local Ivan will work together as a full course meal, but as an amuse bouche, No Scuttle should get music fans salivating accordingly.

MP3:: Dave Norris & Local Ivan - Look Out!
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/davenorrislocalivan
D/L:: http://davenorrislocalivan.bandcamp.com/album/no-scuttle

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 11th, 2010 at 7:56 am and is filed under Canada, Dark Mean, Dave Norris, EPs, Free.99, Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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