Friday Mile has a new recording coming out soon (Feb 20 to be exact) titled Love & Gasoline. If they were on top of things, they'd arrange a tour with The Doll Test, who named their 2006 ep Gasoline & Banks. :) But, I digress.
Jace was kind enough to send me a copy of the new release, which checks in with six new tracks. I've listened to it probably a half-dozen times since receiving it late last week, and I've got to say there isn't a clunker in the bunch. In fact, I can already see this being on a number of Top EPs of 2007 lists 10 months from now. It displays their mastery of melody while bringing to light a series of influences ranging from Americana sounds to 1970s AM radio pop.
Here's a song-by-song run down as I listen to the disc.
Track 1 - Distance Is Danger
This track is unique among the songs on the disc for a few reasons. First, it's the most uptempo of the bunch, and that's not particularly difficult since most of them are slower numbers. Second, it's also the only tune on the e.p. with a minor-chord progression that sounds vaguely "menacing" rather than aching or longing. This couples nicely with the lyrical content, in which the main character says "we should have it out right now" with "little miss laceration" who is "cutting up my words."
Track 2 - Curtain Call
Jace and Hannah trade lead vocals on this slow churning, heart-wrenching tune. This song features the "aching and longing" mentioned in the previous song in both the lyrical content and the melody. "I love you, but you've already made up your mind. So, sorry but I've wasted enough of your time." they sing in a sweet harmony. This song reminds me of the group Mysteries of Life, which features Freda from The Blake Babies and Jake from Antenna (although you can't hear the similarities on their myspace page). I never quite got why Friday Mile tends to say they have R&B influences, but I hear it in Hannah's voice here.
Track 3 - Islands Abound
Within 10 seconds of this song being on, I thought of REM. It was only after my second listen that I realized the opening phrase of the main melody of this tune is nearly identical to part of the "South Central Rain" melody. In fact, there are REM touchstones throughout this song, and that's not a bad thing. In fact, that's not to say that the song is even derivative. We'll just say that it "harkens" in that direction.
Track 4 - Battlescars
Track four opens with a waltz beat, and I initially thought it was going to sound like Elliot Smith, who used the waltz beat so effectively. But, that comparison washes away as soon as the song kicks in. This song emphasizes the rootsy side of Friday Mile and sounds familiar in the same way that all great pop songs do. It's like they grabbed a sheet of paper, made a list of all the important pieces of our collective musical memory, balled that piece of paper up and tossed it into our laps on the way out the door.
Track 5 - Three Years
This one finds Friday Mile in full ballad mode. Imagine the credits rolling on a romantic movie. The screen is black, the text is white, and this song is playing in the background. But, I don't mean that in a cheesy way. The song is earnest and heart-felt and all together pleasant to the ears. This song is the soundtrack to the best heart ache of your life, be it good or bad.
Track 6 - Westward Bound (The Whitest Blankets)
Another one that taps into their rootsy side. Brushes on the drums, long strums on the guitar, lyrics that reference Independence Day and vocals that have just a touch of twang in their delivery. A bit of haunting melancholy covers the song. So new, yet so familiar. There's an element of Southern Gothic to this tune, and as someone who grew up in the South, the whole thing feels like home to me.
As you can tell, I love the whole album. None of it would technically fall under the "powerpop" genre. But, powerpoppers understand and appreciate good songs, and that's what you've got with this release -- six solid tunes that should be required companions on cold weekends, lonely weeknights and perhaps should be issued each October to every person who moved to Seattle during the sunny summer months to prepare them for the dark gray that is to follow.