Birdsting EP (2005, Formula Seven)

This is wonderful indie rock unfettered by pretension and pomp. “Candy Cabbage” scores with its guitar-centric melodies culminating in a catchy, sing-along chorus. It’s the concise, accessible nugget of indie rock that Modest Mouse took 6 albums to find. “Hot Springs” is a proper instrumental, finding a nice melodic line, then revamping it each time through the cycle, finally exploding at the end. “Heep” and “Econoline” are slower numbers (though “Econoline” does employ the age-old quiet/loud dynamic), but the guitar is prominent and confident in its restraint. The singer’s semi-cotton mouth drawl sounds even more like the points of reference here: Damien Jurado, J Mascis, and an unproduced Isaac Brock. “Kmart” ends the EP in clich├ęd acoustic fashion, but lo-fi strumming and hand-clap percussion wins points with me, so all is well that ends well.

I’ll admit there’s tough competition about, but this disc is among the finalists for best “under the radar” release of 2005.

-Mark Hughson 2/1/06

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