Pine For Cedars are a relatively new York band, with just a handful of gigs under their belts so far (including two on the same day, in Leeds and York, back in November), yet they have already reached the final of one Battle of the Bands competition (and may have even won it if you are reading this at least a week after I wrote it…) and put together an impressive EP.
First off, a quick word about the packaging, which has a kind of retro, distressed feel. The CD, designed like a mini vinyl LP, comes in a sealed cardboard sleeve. All very neat, until you unseal it by pulling the opening tape, which then leaves it looking a little tatty. The front design is simple yet effective but something about the black ink feels wrong. It has the sort of slick feel of old newsprint and every time I pick the sleeve up I find myself glancing at my fingers, expecting to see them coated in black. Nothing so far, though. The strange thing is that, despite the obvious thought that has gone into the design (I’ve seen other CDs that look like vinyl, but few that look this shiny) there is no sign of a track listing or even anything on the disk itself that refers to the band name. I guess that might be in order to keep costs down and, as the band seem to be giving the EP away at gigs, I’m not going to complain.
The music itself almost defies genre. Love By Numbers opens with a choppy Math-rock sound reminiscent of past-favourites Lost From Atlas, changes to an almost hypnotic guitar line as the vocals start and then manages to incorporate so many time changes that it belies its less than three minute running time. Platform utilises layered vocals over deceptively simple guitars playing off each other with the bass occasionally popping up in their midst. Taking Over is, perhaps, the most user-friendly track and most likely to appeal to the general music fan. Being slightly more generic, with it’s near-pop vocals, it still retains a large amount of inventiveness, not least the lovely tinny guitar interlude with continues on into the latter section of the track. The EP ends with Life, a wonderfully chilled-out track which returns to the hypnotic sound in evidence at the beginning of the disk and reminding me a lot of Angelo Badalamenti’s music for the Twin Peaks TV series. At times during this track, there is an effect on the vocals that make them sound as though they are coming from a distance, or maybe from inside a tunnel, but that only adds to the charm, rather than being a distraction. Throughout the EP drums and bass provide a solid backing for the tracks without being intrusive while just occasionally coming to the fore enough to be noticed in their own right.
For anybody whose appetite has been whetted, the EP be heard on SoundCloud.
This is a nice debut with good production values – there is no clue as to whether the EP has been recorded in a professional studio or with a home set-up – and while the music is enjoyable enough that I will definitely be investing in any future full-length release, I can’t help but think that Pine For Cedars are a band that need to be seen live to get the full effect.
1. Love By Numbers
3. Taking Over
Rob Lettice – Vocals, guitar
Mike Fong – Guitar
Shane Hunter – Bass
Jamie Bradley – Drums