When I was a bit younger, and didn’t have pesky grown-up problems like bills and rent payments and stuff, I would occasionally go to the record store and flip through albums with the idea that I was going to pick something up based off of the cover art. The idea here was that whatever the art was gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect from the music. Sometimes it worked out pretty well, sometimes… well.. sometimes it was awful. I’d say that, in general, the results were more in my favor than not. I bring this up because the minute I saw the artwork for Great Plains’ self-titled debut EP, that old feeling came over me. Just looking at it, I thought “I bet I know what this is going to sound like, and I bet I’m going to like it”.
Fortunately for me, this wasn’t one of the situations where I was dreadfully wrong, on either count.
So, that said, the album art is pretty accurate in giving the potential listener an idea of what to expect – it’s foggy, it’s a little grey, but it’s pretty. Hell, there are even some sounds on the record that sound kind of like birds. It’s almost like the guys in the band looked at the picture and went, “So, this. This is what we’re going to sound like”, and you know what? It’s good. Damn good. It has the fog – the repetitive, droning moments; it has the grey – some of the moodier, atmospheric moments; and it has the pretty – the more “standard” post-rock moments. The beauty of this album to me, though, is the not so obvious influences. The bits of Sonic Youth that I hear in the songs is every bit as important as the Isis. It’s always a great thing to me when a band truly tries to incorporate all of their influences (and is also a great reason why I’ve never been successful in starting a band).
Allow me though, if you will, to sort of step away from talking about the music for a second. Well, not entirely, but sort of. The EP was recorded live, and being a bit of a music nerd (ya think?), I’m highly impressed. Far too often, even in post-rock, bands rely very heavily on recording layers over layers, tweaking things after recording them, and so on. When I discover that a band has recorded their album live, it gives me kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling. So, kudos to Great Plains for having the courage and talent to do such a thing.
The EP itself climbs and descends the way you would expect a lone post-rock song to do. Even a cursory glance at the track times will show you that – short, medium, long, medium, short. Given that this was recorded live, I tend to think that the track listing was intentionally laid out in such a way, but maybe I’m reading into things a bit too much. Regardless, the composition of the songs work fairly well together. My two gripes are the endings of ‘Colder/Brighter’ and ‘Drive About You’. While the ending of the latter just seems a little misplaced, the finale of the former is just really anti-climatic to me. Of course, as with most EPs that I enjoy, I wish that it was a bit longer, but so it goes. In an age of being able to binge watch great TV shows in a fantastic display of shunning your social life, we’re kind of accustomed to wanting as much as possible as quickly as possible. I’ll be more than content, however, to enjoy this EP while I wait for more music from these guys!