Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Reviews:: Penny Blacks Regret, Regret

We've only released three installments of the Great Canadian Mixtape project, but we've already starting compiling a list of oversights. One such omission is New Brunswick's Penny Blacks. Originally just one man - Jason Ogden - Penny Blacks has evolved into a full band effort, and when Ogden began augmenting his guitar strums with some drums and piano, the songs took off. This little four song EP (Regret, Regret) is a perfect appetizer to introduce you to his songwriting and get you hungry for more.

He's an engaging song writer, able to control your ear with just some aggressive strums of the acoustic and thoughtful lyrics (as he proves on Wherever and Ever I Go), but to me the songs really come to life with some well placed support from his band. The piano that dances behind the scenes in This Winding Comet Tail is just the type of decision that helps him sound like more than just another stripped down acoustic punk/indie artist. Sure, at times Ogden sounds a lot like Matt Skiba on this one (note: I still think Alkaline Trio wrote some killer tacks, so that's not a slag), but I'm more impressed by the bursts of electric guitar he adds to give the song a bit more chaos and oomph.

I was wondering if all his songs would be dark, but Ogden switches it up quickly on Our Old Rooms. The acoustic and electric meld into an addictive classic indie rock crunch and sheds a beam of light on the listener. The light jangle warms your heart and begs you to hit the "<<" button the second it finishes. Wherever and Ever I Go is a lo-fi, double tracked guitar number and at times Ogden's voice is barely audible, but that intimacy actually sounds great after the two fuller tracks that proceed it.

The closing track - Maybe You Should Get Out - is an epic at almost 6-minutes. He uses a patient build that starts with a gentle picked acoustic before cranking up the mix with the heavy strums and crashing drums that take over on the chorus. Ogden isn't lacking for inspiration or creativity (as he shows when he breaks into a up tempo romp to close out the track and manages to keep all 6 minutes interesting), as each of these four songs could be a gateway to a successful record.

Unlike so many recordings that get sent our way, Penny Blacks makes me wish that I had the chance to see them play soon. They are the type of songs you want to bounce around to, singing along with that band and feeling like you were part of the show. Keep your eyes and ears on Penny Blacks.

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Posted at 1:12 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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