Smoke & Variety is an excellent EP from The Flying Museum Band. There’s elements of Americana-folk-pop mixed with some catchy driving power-pop that blends together well and produces a very enjoyable listen.
The title track opens the EP with a burst of saxophone and sustained electric guitar. Once the band enters, there are traces of alt-country, Cars-like synth, rapid guitar countermelodies and a catchy harmonized chorus. Towards the end, a screaming saxophone trades off with pounding drums before the song releases the final tag. “Moment Of Lucidity” starts out with Springsteen-like power chords and saxophone hits before moving into an Elvis Costello-like New Wave song. The chorus is teased and delayed by a verse, but comes out swinging when it does arrive. An elegant guitar solo leads to a flurry of choruses that are accompanied by organ swells. “Hideout High” has a Replacements like feel. It’s a catchy power-pop song complete with harmonized saxophones over organ and melodic bass. The song closes out by jamming out an extremely innovative guitar solo.
“Wishin’ on a Wild Heart” opens with a sweeping organ before a chime-y guitar takes over. When the vocals enter there’s an Uncle Tupelo/early Wilco vibe in the delivery and lyrics accompanied by some nice harmonies throughout and a slight tip of the hat to Maya Angelou. There are many great elements to this song including an exceptional saxophone solo which is the peak of the song, though the song does meander at times and could be slightly shorter.
The EP closes with “Uptown Kelly,” initially teasing a free-jazz piano and saxophone exploration before moving into a driving pop song. The screaming lead guitar that soars through the anthem-like fist-pumping chorus and takes over at times is a nice complement to a great vocal delivery. They both take turns passing through saxophone builds and synth textures.
Overall, the EP contains all the right ingredients: good songwriting, performances and production. The vocal harmonies blend well together and the saxophone has some very great moments throughout of melody and support, but the lead guitar shines the brightest and is an excellent asset to this band.
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