Without Hazard are four guys who are into making summer-appropriate melodies. They recorded Tahiti in a basement but you wouldn't realize it with such fine production. The namesake to this five-track EP is the street where it was recorded, which is somewhere in St. Louis, Mo. They've been playing for about three years and they even have a set of brothers in the band, always great for press. Jack (guitar, vocals) and Dan (drums) Eschmann joined forces with Tim Tancock (bass) and A.J. Lane (guitar, piano, vocals) in high school. I like to think the Eschmanns were conceived to a bottle of Jack Daniels while T. Rex's Electric Warrior played in the background.
Tahiti clocks in at around 25 minutes but during that time manages to hit all the sweet spots a modern psychedelic rock album should hit. Frothy, swirling guitars, rollicking bass lines keeping everything tame, the random fifth instrument, in this case Lane's twinkling piano, and emotive melodies. Without Hazard lists Tame Impala and early Muse among their influences and you can hear it on a track like the reverb-drenched "Sunwaves.” Of all sounds, the two guitars are the most prominent and the most interesting to behold. Progressive-minded chord changes and unusual time signatures make interesting companions for wayward vocalists Lane and Jack. This is used effectively on "Snakes & Ladders,” when sharp riffage jars the listener into attention before Lane's solid bass playing directs the song into smoother territory. Everything comes to a close with the quietly violent "Childhood's End.” It's a five-minute whirlpool of powerful guitar work, spacey sound effects and near-flawless harmony among the musicians.
Of course there are weaknesses within Tahiti, namely a lack of distinction in Without Hazard's sound – they sound far too much like their Muses–and the sometimes whiny qualities of the vocalists don't always gel with the dynamic music they're singing with. Still, strong songwriting prevails. There is structure, but also experimentation. Tahiti sounds like Without Hazard have already hit their stride, but they are capable of more than just polite imitation. It's a daunting task, especially when bands like Tame Impala and Radiohead are on your thank-you list, but Tahiti represents the quartet's first step in rising to the challenge.
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