Friday, February 18, 2011

EP of the Day, 2/18/11: Derby-Madeline.

Portland Oregon's Derby has been a personal favorite going back to their brilliant 2005 debut This is the New You. It was my #1 album of that year (although in retrospect I'd give the nod to Valley Lodge's debut), and made a nice splash in the power pop community. Posters Fade, the followup, didn't quite make the same impact but it still made my top 10 in 2008. Now they've released Madeline, a 4-song digital-only EP that drifts away from the indie-influenced power pop of the debut and more toward some of the darker, moodier sounds that made up Posters Fade.

"Don't Believe in You" opens with some snaky bass lines and rock guitar before frontman Nat Johnson begins a call-and-answer verse with the band. A lot of Derby's appeal apart from the songwriting is tied up in Johnson's voice, which recalls a less breathy Joe Pernice, and it lends Derby's songs extra gravitas. All in all, the track is an effective and interesting rocker, leading into the midtempo title track. This might be the most "Derbyesque" of the four tracks here, a passionate power ballad.

"Creeping Climbing" finds Dave Gulick and Johnson on vocals, and it's another moody and meandering track that will eventually get under your skin, and Gulick goes it alone on the lovely acoustic closer, "One's a Lonely One", reminiscent of Big Star's "I'm in Love With a Girl". It's a fine EP, and if you're a Derbyhead like me, a must-have. The uninitiated should start with This is the New You, however.

CD Baby | iTunes

download "Madeline" at their official site

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