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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Craig's Brother -- E.P.idemic


After the debacle following the release of Lost at Sea, I was terrified Craig's Brother were done for.  Label droppage, member shuffling, vans breaking--nothing but bad news.  It didn't seem fair.  Considering the quality of Craig's Brother's output, the band should have been exploding (in popularity), not their van!  Yes, that awful sentence just happened.
Somehow, following all this turmoil, Craig's Brother managed to put out some new music.  Despite my faith in the band, I was filled with trepidation.  Five song E.P.'s are almost always disappointing.  Even if they are decent, they're almost never satisfying, giving you a taste of what you want, then leaving you hungry.
E.P.idemic (title created through a fan contest) begins with "10,000 Miles," a great rock song.

Around this time, people were beginning to compare Ted Bond's voice to R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe.  Craig's Brother's incredible, unreleased cover of "Losing My Religion" certainly furthered the comparisons.
While I admit that the Stipe references are apt, especially on this E.P., I think the conviction in their voices is their greatest similarity.

"10,000 Miles" details a struggling relationship between two people with differing ideals, and is naturally followed by "Bad Marriage."  This song could well be about the same two folks in "10,000 Miles." "Bad Marriage" almost works as the antithesis of Lost at Sea's "Divorce." Instead of storming out, the speaker here seems determined to resolve things, finding the solution in "Words in a dusty volume, strange beyond comprehension," and in, "How they're rectifying me, filling the spaces in my life."  Ted's wife Erin lends backup vocals to this track, and they are a nice touch--instead of overpowering or drawing unnecessary attention (hereby know as "Aguilering"), they add to the song.
"Long Way" is next and continues the same themes.  I've been married for a decent while, sometimes happily, and all of these songs hit close to home.  After "Long Way," comes arguably E.P.demic's only misstep. "E.P.issdumbology" is a very good song, but it doesn't really thematically fit with the other tracks.  Then again, who outside of me and maybe five other people actually care about that?  It's still a great critique of the ridiculousness of our mass-media-led and deceived culture (and also paves the way for future Craig's Brother music), and it is a highly enjoyable song.  Steven Neufield of the band, HeyMike!, follows in the line of Ted Bond collaborators, and the two work well and sound great together on this song.
"Flag Down" closes the E.P., picking up the thematic strands of the first three songs, though this one seems to be about a follower and an ailing leader.  With its talk of "conformist cattle," it sort of references "E.P.issdumbology," and may just tie the entire E.P. together, reflecting on how our culture can affect our relationships.  Maybe this E.P. is even more brilliant than I am giving it credit for.
Whatever the case, there's no arguing the fact that Craig's Brother make the most out of E.P.demic's seventeen minutes.  It's the rare E.P. that doesn't find itself forgotten on the shelf.  Eight years later, I'm still actively pulling it down, throwing it on (wait, you guys don't throw your CD's onto your players?...wait, you guys don't listen to CD's?...), and enjoying it.

2004 Takeover Records
1. 10, 000 Miles 2:54
2. Bad Marriage 3:43
3. Long Way 3:08
4. E.P.issdumbology 4:23
5. Flag Down 3:23

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