Saturday, March 19, 2011

EP Shakedown: The Five Tones - Episode I: Tennessee

Keepin' up with the daily posting, as best I can. This EP Shakedown is dedicated to some new blues-inspired rock (that is, rock focused more on blues, as opposed to blues rock, which has such a wide berth, it might as well mean nothing), The Five Tones.

The Five Tones' debut EP, Episode I: Tennessee, is a great display of what a group can do with blues rock, even if their influences are obvious. Their songs are eclectic go from being a throwback to the delta-blues era of the 20s, to sounding like a more modern rock band is releasing a blues-oriented LP, or just a more modern version of blues rock (with more emphasis on the rock aspect). I can't figure out if I really like the music, or just like how it reminds me of other acts.

The most obvious song of a modern relation is the first track, "Hid Away." It has such a similar guitar rhythm to Wolfmother's "Joker & The Thief" that it's all I think about when I listen to the song. "Hid Away" is still a good song, but the resemblance is uncanny, as if Wolfmother decided to go blues rock instead of psychedelia-laced stoner. It's too similar for me, and I know that I'll never get over that hurdle.

The other biggie is "Old Man Jackson," the third track, which reminds me of a ZZ Top song, most notably "Cheap Sunglasses." The song structure is very similar, and while it isn't as obvious homage as "Hid Away" was to Wolfmother (if that was even the case), the nagging feeling of ZZ Top won't go away. The Five Tones' composition not nearly as poppy, mixing in much more of a southern-blues theme, which does let it get away from the initial thought, giving it some room to breathe.

The rest of the songs are a little more varied, "Coming Home" is a solid blues song, even going as far as having the grainy/over-exposed vocals of the recordings of that era. While "Lion" and "No More Crying" come off more as a hard rock band trying to tie in some blues, it's not hard rock, but it doesn't go nearly as far into the blues vein as "Coming Home" did.

The Five Tones are another band that shows promise, they obviously know which side of their instruments is up, but currently lack the focus to be something more. Episode I: Tennessee, shows the band's varied genre abilities and the obvious acts that have influenced them, but it doesn't spend enough time in one direction - well except blues, which they do very well. For their full-length, I would hope for their sound to be narrowed down a bit. Focus on what you kick-ass at, and leave the rest behind.

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