Envy on the Coast
Tracklist01. Mountain Slang I
02. Coast to Coast
03. Don't Stray
04. The Bloodiest Gums
05. We're Animals
06. Mountain Slang II
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Call it a character flaw, but I am an elitist, indie snob and refuse to listen to the radio. However, I’m more than willing to admit that there are some quality alternative stations out there, and I want to make it clear that when I say Those Mockingbirds have three solid, radio-ready tunes on their EP Fa Sol La, I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. This relatively new band plays like a bunch of hardened musical vets. The quintet’s sound includes just enough nods to alt. cult giants to be instantly accessible to a wide-range of potential listeners, while still flooring the snobs like me. Put plainly, they’re a fresh breath of air. That isn’t to say that Fa Sol La isn’t without its share of filler and missteps, but the short effort just oozes quality and greater appeal. For all of the many niche bands we cover here at Decoy, Those Mockingbirds aren’t destined to occupy a small niche much longer.
Fa Sol La is bookended by two “Mountain Slang” tracks, parts I & II, though as bookends they’re about as effective as paperclips bent into tiny L-shapes, leaned against the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. These two short tracks of throwaway ambiance aren’t at all a sign of what’s to come and don’t rightfully “fit.” Proper opener “Coast to Coast” is a driving, anthemic rocker with bombastic guitar leads from the outset. The chorus is reminiscent of turn-of-the-millennium gritty alt. rock, but softened by quick strokes of Tory Daines’ delicate vocals—a great counterpoint to Adam Bird’s assertive croons. The almost power ballad-esque “Don’t Stray” follows, built up around swells of elegiac violin and more of Daines and Bird’s vocal interplay. The expansive chorus is tastefully emotional, as Bird and Daines take turns pleading, “Don’t stray. (Don’t stray.) I’m stuck on all the things that you don’t say.”
Clocking in under two minutes, “The Bloodiest Gums” is a curious, haunting sort of track, heavily orchestrated, and feels out of place and underdeveloped amongst the single-caliber songs that surround it. Piggybacking on its enigmatic energy, however, is “We’re Animals,” another distinctly “different”-feeling track, but this time fully developed. The heavy lean on violin and tambourine lends the track a folksy, Western grit and a sultry swagger only compounded by Bird’s lusty lyrics, “All this time I spent on hunting, when you were ripe and by yourself. We’re animals, we’re animals...”
With three quality tracks interspersed between anemic ambiance and an intriguing stub, Fa Sol La’s biggest problem is a lack of atmosphere and definite tone. The instrumental pieces are quiet and unobstructive in direct contrast to just how big and brash the actual songs are, and the first half of the album’s tracks lack the regional flair of the latter half. That being said, there isn’t a better place for trial and error than an EP, which, outside of various concept EPs of late, isn’t really expected to be a cohesive whole. Fa Sol La is more of a taste of three distinct styles Those Mockingbirds have already mastered—oh, and it’s available completely free on their website. Check ‘em out, because when they’re on, Those Mockingbirds kill it.