Hailing from Vancouver BC, Old Man Canyon is a band that originated from the effort of front man Jett Pace, who managed to update folk and indie-pop influences (think Iron and Wine, Mumford and Sons) to the electric format, not unlike the work of seminal folk-rock pioneers, including the legendary Neil Young and what he created with his Crazy Horse project. Phantoms and Friends is a five-song EP that the band has chosen to release for free download via Bandcamp, a good move to spread the word about their music in this day and age where bands of any kind seem to pop out of every corner of the world wide web.
The first track on the release, "Wiser" does really sound like an embracing, welcoming opening tune for this EP, immediately striking with well-arranged vocal harmonies leading to a classic folk-pop tune with a "kick stomper " beat driving the song. The song is exuberant bursting with emotion that can raise your happiness level a couple degrees. No doubt if you are in a bad mood it will put you in a good mood and if you are good mood you may just get out of you chair and start dancing. "Phantom and Friends" is probably the track that feels the most retro on this whole EP, blinking an eye to the sound of 70s folk rock, and it's impossible not to think of the aforementioned Neil Young when listening to this tune, which find its strength in the balance between the rough sounding production and the sweetness of the vocals. "Take me Higher" seemed to be instantly recognizable in that the chorus was so good I felt I had heard it before. The song isn't bursting with the same kinetic energy as the first song but instead replaces that with a very welcome feeling of nostalgia. I was happy that Jett decided to end the album with "In The Rain" which instead of ending on a somber note he decided to to use a track that burst with almost as much electricity as the first song.
Phantoms and Friends might risk to get stuck in its own mood, but that's not really a fault: After all, you expect different things from a five-song release than you would expect from a longer album. This EP is a great introduction to Old Man Canyon, and the whole product is really well packaged, not only because of the really appropriate sound production (there's is a lot of attention on the sounds and on the performance feel) but also because of the charming artwork courtesy of Bonnie Gaskin. A pleasant surprise for any fan of folk and indie-pop!
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