Typically, the ascription of “singer-songwriter” carries connotations of a musician and their guitar, with simple chord progressions providing a stage for somber lyrics. Such couldn't be much further from the case for self-proclaimed “singer-songwriter” J.W. Farrell. On his recent release, Alexandria EP, in the scant space of four songs, J.W. Farrell digs his heels into focussed and fuzzy garage-like rock with a clean new wave bend while dancing around the edges of aughts indie and boss bombast.
Alexandria EP is laden with fuzz and guitar reverb, which is juxtaposed by steadily ticking drum machine beats and unhurried vocal delivery. While the vocals are mostly front and center, they never dominate the soundscape or demand your undivided attention. Rather they drift forth at a lazy river pace, sauntering through the verses with delivery akin to The National's Matt Berninger—albeit without the dominating baritone.
Oftentimes a simple three word line will be un-urgently strung across an entire verse, with the quickly bleating backbeat provide contrast and a sense of conflict that bodes well for the thematic elements of the music. The fuzzy, underlying guitar is reminiscent of The Strokes, with straightforward, yet effective delivery and terse solos that never feel forced.
The four songs are all of equal caliber and have a consistent sound, but there is enough variation between them to keep the EP exciting and hurling forward. “West 4th” opens the album with ambient guitar sounds before cutting to an urgent beat and ringing guitar progression that calls to mind Springsteen and late 80's rock vibes. The first word of the verse is drenched in reverb, those that follow less so but still, the laid back vocal delivery filling the cracks in what was almost a sparse sound. The song repeats its parts enough to drive home theme, but doesn't overstay its welcome. The track “Chicago” has fuzzed out vocals that bring to mind Deerhunter, while “2 Street” has a post-new wave feel that sounds just a little bit like late-80's Echo and the Bunnymen. “Alexandria” is a gentle, stripped down song that has a great melody, but suffers just a little bit from some odd syncopation on the drum track.
While a good album is a good album—whether it was recorded in a cutting edge studio or into a single mic in a shed—it is all the more impressive when someone creates a sizable wash of sound with the most rudimentary of tools. Alexandria EP falls into that category. Farrell recorded this entire thing using a usb M-Box inputted into Garage Band! Some instrumentation, like drum beats, where recorded within the program itself. That said, Farrell did have the project mixed professionally by Skylar Ross recording, and, either the engineer there was a wizard or Farrell deservers a lot of credit for crafting something complex, nuanced, layered and coherent with some very basic equipment.
Become A Fan
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook