Lee Cain (vocals/guitar/cavaquinho/banjo), Adam Ortiz (vocal/guitar), Pete Daniels (violin), Brandon Miller (bass) and Joe Hodgson (drums) are Blue Plains. Their EP took awhile to make. Over three years on every Tuesday the two founding members would work on the EP. I’ve never understood concepts like the RPM challenge.
If you can’t finish a song maybe it just wasn't that good to begin with and sometimes a good song takes more than a couple of days to make. To my point there is almost always a notable chasm of disparity between an album that has been worked on for a year versus a four-song EP that was written, and recorded in two or three days. The dedication to a craft is apparent to me on this self-titled five-song EP Blue Plains.
On their Bandcamp page the band says they have been compared to Wilco, Radiohead, Mumford and Arcade Fire. As a side note I don’t think bands should mention comparisons. I think the music should be an open book which lets the listener interpret the experience. Hopefully a band gets no comparisons and is a singular entity. Since the comparisons were planted in my head I was looking or them. Nothing in the least reminded me of Radiohead or really of Arcade Fire. However, Blue Plains does have an alt-country vibe on some songs that we have heard from on Wilco.
The songs are organic, feel open and certainly dig into Americana sensibilities. Take for instance the impressive opener “Sharks.” There's a lot to like about this song including the vocals, violin, shimmering guitars, unique drumming and harmonies. It’s a solid opener that got me interested in the remaining songs which wasn't' exactly what I was expecting.
Up next is “City, Sing to Me” which rocks a little less and leans more towards country. The song is more subdued but also more emotionally resonant. The bass and drums provide the energy as the violins and guitars create the atmosphere.
“Falling Sky” goes down a pretty different road. It's a format that starts off soft and goes into epic territory. There is a bit of Pink Floyd vibe here that felt a little weird coming off the prior song. Even more contrasting is “Can You Hear Me?” which skips over country and goes into bluegrass territory which at this point had me scratching my head as to where this was going.
The closer is contemplative and sounded similar to Doves. It builds upon atmosphere, swells of violin and picked guitar. The song picks up energy and eventually goes into a “Free Bird” style rock out section.
All the songs on this EP are good and arguably great. On that note the songs didn't feel particularly cohesive which left a blurry impression of the band's overall sound as well as their vision.
Overall, I enjoyed this EP and thought the work they put in was obvious. Approaching this EP as a batch of singles is the way to go. Recommended
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