Blackstone Rangers' Debut EP Is A Brief But Memorable Journey.
The best type of albums — and the ones that typically have the longest shelf lives — are the ones that take the listener on some sort of journey, the ones that play out more like a complete listening experience as opposed to a random collection of tracks. Over the typical course of a standard 80-minute collection of a dozen or so tracks, there's definitely plenty of room to accomplish this.
On the other hand, it is pretty rare to get that same experience from a five-track, 20-minute EP.
On Into The Sea, the debut EP from Blackstone Rangers, the band employs a heady track-ordering that manages to give the listener a much-desired experience. The effort begins with nothing but hand claps and an a capella female vocal loop repeatedly reciting the album's title on “Mutiny at Toho Bay” before picking up some steam as a decidedly electro number. From there, “Hollyglen” and “Pigeon” begin incorporating more live instruments, tons of reverb and the occasional male vocal lead as well.
Oh, and there's lots of distortion. It's all over Into the Sea, helping to make the recorded versions of these tunes as noisy as the band's live shows.
Says keyboardist/vocalist Ruth Smith of this piercing direction: “This is our first real recording effort. I don't think it was an attempt to sound 'noisy' or anything. But we sure do like distortion!”
The EP's penultimate track, “Sheen Machine,” is a fitting climax for the album as the band breaks into full on dance-punk mode, turning in the loudest, poppiest and most polished of the record's five tracks. Hooky female vocals, nasty guitars and Costello-like synth lines combine into a force that could just as easily soundtrack a dance party as a bare-knuckles basement brawl.
It all leads perfectly into the somewhat subdued “I Won't Tell.” The longest song on the EP, it continues to build as elements from each of the previous songs are incorporated into the most balanced combo of electronic and live elements from any song on the album.
Fittingly, the last sounds one hears are the heavily distorted residual echoes of ringing effects pedals.
You can stream the EP in its entirety at the end of this post. Attendees at their June 8 release show at Bryan Street Tavern can pick up copies of the EP on limited edition blue cassettes.
“We still wanted something physical — a piece of art — so people could touch it, own it and put it on a shelf,” says guitarist Derek Kutzer. “We were fortunate enough to have Evan Henry and Matt Vickers of Dallas Distortion Music put out the EP on cassette, which, of course, includes a digital download.”
Adds Smith: “We knew right away that we didn't want CDs. None of us can even remember the last CD we bought.”