Darren Popovich and Blake Brown are a duo that go by Err. They released a couple of lo-fi demo recordings entitled The Dead Ground. The songs consist of guitar, vocals and some piano.
They open up with the most dismal sounding song entitled “The Dead Ground”. The song repeats the same picking pattern for its three-plus-minutes as the singer laments and sounds as if he is about to break down into tears. His singing is so hushed that he mumbles his words. I felt the song could have ended around the one-minute-mark.
Up next is “Blue-Eyed Moon.” There is still a lot of melancholy but not to the point where it seemed like I wanted to slit my wrists. The song is well written and seems to be directly influenced by Elliott Smith.
“You Know” is one of the highlights from the melancholy songs. The additional elements help the mix add another layer of emotional residue. The song gives off a glimmer of hope which I didn’t feel in the first two tracks. He sings “Over the waves, over the waves But at the end of the line I will find, yeah I will find.”
“Wallflower Waltz” feels downright celebratory compared to the other tracks. The verse in particular was one of the band's most inspired moments. For some reason the recording quality improves on “Clime” which reverts to a contemplative, melancholy feel.
The biggest misstep is”Terrified.” I’m not sure what was going on with this song but the song was beyond muddy. I couldn't make out a single word and it was baffling as to why this track was so long.
They get back on track with ”Black & White Tile Floor.” The best thing about the song was the tasteful use of elements to fill in the spaces. The seven-plus-minute “Pour Rien” could have used some energy and more elements to help it move along while “Treehouses” has some inspired vocals.
The Dead Ground is a mixed release. Some of the songs (“You Know” and ”Wallflower Waltz”) felt like clear highlights amongst the batch while others felt too melodramatic and drawn out. I’d like to hear a bump in production next time around with a song that feels a bit more cohesive. Overall, there is some potential here and it might resonate with fans of artists like Elliott Smith, Low and Grouper.
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