Posts Tagged ‘EZTV’

Ezrat

As EZTV went gently into the hereafter, without much fuss or fury, the band’s spark didn’t necessarily get snuffed out completely. Songwriter Ezra Tenenbaum has taken the momentum of his previous band and channeled it into his solo/not-solo endeavor Ezrat. He enlists several sympathetic souls for the album, bringing Kyle Forester (Woods, Crystal Stilts), John Andrews (Hand Habits, Cut Worms), and Michael Hesslein (Mail the Horse) on board for Carousel and they help carve the album into a lush slice of clear-blue pop. EZTV always rested on a fault line between power pop’s less turbulent (though by no means shallow) waters and jangle-pop’s more contemplative souls. Inject the sighed ennui of Chris Bell into mid-period works by The Chills and you’re starting to come close to what they’d achieved. Streak in a worn country soul on the second album and the band’s sound only got became that much more singular. Tenenbaum is still sorting through these influences as Ezrat and the decision to never completely pick a camp gives the album its rich appeal.

The opener, “Distortions,” is a jangled exhale of beautiful melancholy — streaked with sunset hues peeking through the rain. “Lost Sounds” swoons with strings, caught in a haze of lovesick harmonies and gentle plucks. While the rest of the album definitely relishes the grey-skied days in its temperament, the album doesn’t wallow. Carousel is hopeful in its heartbreak, more sweet than bitter, but it’s definitely pushing a lump down in its throat. Tenenbaum has spent years perfecting the right way to lament without pulling the listener down into despair and like High In Place before it, the album succeeds in being both a source of solace and hope. This one’s sneaking out a bit further below the radar than the last EZTV record, but that makes it the kind of charming gem that more people need to discover. If you were an EZTV fan, this is the next installment. If you’re simply a fan of well-crafted pop, then this might just open you up to a deep catalog of Tenebaum’s past pursuits as well.



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Ezrat – “Loud Sounds”

While they often bubbled under the surface, Brooklyn’s EZTV were a vital piece of the power-pop puzzle from the last few years. As the band’s mercurial sound began to change over the years they pulled in a soft lilt of country and folk that rounded their sound into something far more nuanced than genre tags can hope to evoke. Much like Canadian contemporary Michael Rault, they’d found a sound that was lush and luxuriant within the bounds of pop, and while it seems that EZTV as an entity have faded into the ether that informed them, their spirt lives on with Ezrat. Songwriter Ezra Tenenbaum has begun a new journey that’s gilded with many of the same charms as his previous band. Hung heavy with the dissolution of not only the band but many past relationships, the songs on Carousel were culled from a cache of 50 recordings Tenenbaum had saved up as home demos.

Ezra brought Kyle Forester (Woods, Crystal Stilts), John Andrews (Hand Habits, Cut Worms), and Michael Hesslein (Mail the Horse) along for the ride, fleshing out a bittersweet gem of an album at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn. On the first single, “Loud Sounds,” a knotted riff gives way to the sighs of strings (provided by Elena Moon Park & Kyla-Rose Smith) with Tenenbaum giving the track his usual rose-colored veneer – soft strums fading into the winds and melodies wrapping themselves around your own memories until they tug at the heartswell sweetness of melancholy days gone by. The record is out May 1st. Take a few spins ‘round with “Loud Sounds” below.



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EZTV – “Daytime”

A nice little one off from RSTB faves EZTV today. The band is about to embark on a scant East Coast tour with Ex Hex and the video serves as non-album bonus in preparation. The song is breezy as hell, dipping into their well of jangles full force. “Daytime” is swelling with ennui, recounting the pleasures of wandering aimlessly. While its no new album proper, its a great extra from an oft underrated band. The accompanying video has a day in the life quality of touring, which is pleasant, but mostly just serves as some nice drapery on a great track.

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A. Savage

Here’s the thing, as a band Parquet Courts lost me a while back. I championed Light Up Gold because it captured a certain moment in the slide of Brooklyn from youthful intrusion to full on infestation of wealth. It was a feeling in time mimeographed and cut to groove, but as the band continued they became more wrapped up in their own lineage and legacy than seemed necessary. The deadpan dynamics and new wave plundering fell too antiseptic on my shores. That’s not to discount Andrew Savage as a songwriter, he’s proven he’s got an angle that sells and a poet’s heart that lends itself well to the Jonathan Richman patter that he’s able to slip into seamlessly.

So it winds up that he’s gone back home to his roots in Texas and a brand of lonesome country pining for his latest, and here he finds his second wind. The album boasts no shortage of talent, swapping out his usual backing band for a bevy of friends and compatriots from Woods, Ultimate Painting, PC Worship, EZTV, and Psychic TV. The assembled masses take his drip dry delivery on a tour of the Southwest, grasping hands with slide guitar and an amiable amble without ever affecting any hackneyed country croon. Instead he staples his best Calvin Johnson talking blues to the tumbleweeds of alt-country and, at times, a starker strain that boils the noise out of his boots and lets an acerbic twinge show through the relaxed demeanor of Thawing Dawn.

This is actually where the album shines brightest, when the noise overwhelms the swagger (see: “What Do I Do”). The moment that the veneer is broken and the brain starts to boil compliments the easy going country ambivalence. There are some choice ballads here that showcase Savage’s handle on being the lonesome foal among a herd that might not love him back, but when he lets fly a brand of noise-country I’m fully invested in what he’s selling. There are those that will brand this a solo outing unmoored from his Parquet work, adrift and looking for purchase, but for me that’s where Savage excels. By balancing ennui painted in sunset hues and itching uncertainty, he’s found an explanation of what drifting into your thirties in the city feels like.




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EZTV – “High Flying Faith”

I came sorely late to EZTV’s first album, but the band’s timeless touch on the power pop paradigm seemed far too welcomed to pass up. Now the band stands on the verge of a follow-up and it sounds even more polished, working through the Byrdsian touches that found their way down to the likes of Shake Some Action-era Flaming Groovies and the bigger vistas of The Raspberries or later period Big Star. They’re fully gripping that hold on pop shimmer and this time they’re bringing Jenny Lewis along for the ride with some subtle backup vocals. Frankly, there couldn’t be a sweeter touch to add to any crystalline pop song than Lewis’ bourbon and honey drawl. The song fairly melts out of the speakers like sugar dissolving in water. Every note feels perfect, but not in a cloying way. EZTV have a timelessness that hits like the sweet pang of nostalgia rather than the hot slap of kitcsh. If this is how they’re rolling out of the gates for High In Place, then I’m pretty damn eager to hear how the rest plays out.



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EZTV & Nic Hessler – “Buy This Record”

While I can always use any reason to love a good power pop cover, combining one of RSTB’s favorites from the present (EZTV) and the past (Milk ‘n Cookies) pretty much tops the list. For those who aren’t versed, Milk ‘n Cookies were probably one of the softest punches that power pop ever pulled and their dreamy-eyed debut is a classic in its own right that’s now getting yet another life from the folks at Captured Tracks. Well technically they gave it a new life a few years back on the sorely missed Radio Heartbeat imprint, but same owners different name on the delivery here. The CT issue is expanded with some extras but what you need is the main course anyhow and its a record that should be in all hands, not just us power pop nerds.

Anyohow, in honor of that release, and probably to shine a bigger light on its necessity, Captured Tracks is also issuing a Record Store Day single of labelmates EZTV and Nic Hessler covering the band’s shoulda-been-classic “Buy This Record”. Personally I’d have gone for a cover of “Typically Teenage” but any Milk ‘n Cookies is good Milk n’ Cookies and the pair up works well to capture the track’s fizzy fun. Can’t pick the single up until the insanity of RSD but you can grab the Milk ‘n Cookies box now, and you should if you know what’s good for you.



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EZTV

Said it before and I’ll say it again, January always acts as a cleanup of what was so sorely forgotten in the crush of year-end nonsense and in that mindset its with sorrow that I’m just now getting a chance to delver further into this EZTV album. With nods down the line of 70’s radio rock that spans from Todd Rundgren to the softer shadows of Cheap Trick, the band more often channels those playing in the wake of those pop princes. They mold the earnestness of Shoes with the instant likability of Chris Wilson-era Flamin’ Groovies to instantly arrive formed as successors to their brand of crystalline pop. The band went into the studio with 30 tracks and shaped and shaved them with the help of Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and while each and every song doesn’t jump out of the speakers and into your nagging subconscious, collectively the album feels fully realized and perfectly nuanced. Each and every listen brings a new favorite to the fore and its plain to see that the band is more interested in making a lasting impression than fleeting infatuation. Calling Out isn’t fancy, it isn’t pushing the paradigm of pop forward. It is however an excellent study in keeping things simple and knowing exactly who you are and where you come from. It’s a love letter to classic American pop albums and one that hits all the right points to put you in its sway.

Listen:


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