Cascading guitars and energetic riffs introduce the title track of Before the Day, the ten-song album from Old Abode, a band hailing from North Hampton, New Hampshire. The album’s overall sound is smooth pop-rock, and the overall vibe is uplifting and peaceful. Singer Shea Ellis is a capable and pleasant-sounding vocalist, and his guitar work is eloquent throughout.
The band cite The Beatles as well as My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses as some of their biggest influences, but while they identify themselves as an indie rock group, they prove to have an affinity for a diverse set of musical styles: bluegrass twang, epic guitar solos, and even a cameo by the mandolin,
Northern Sky shows off an intricate mandolin part as well as folky guitars, making it one of the album’s standout tracks. Ellis serenades his muse, “Elusive Aurora / She came to me on a summer breeze / Whispering right through the trees.” This song segues into Leaves, a continuation of Ellis entwining a romanticized nature with his various muses.
Old Abode manage to throw down a surprise at the very end of the album with 314, the punchiest tune of the album. The band show their funky side as Ellis sings, “The coward sits in silence / Quietly plotting his revenge / To those who left him in defiance / And pushed him over that pathological, psychological edge.” The song lasts nearly seven minutes, but it’s exactly the kind of jam session that would still have heads bobbing even if it were twice as long.
Friendly People’s debut, self-titled 3-song EP gives a concise taste of a promising young Cambridge, MA-based band. Their jangly indie pop is peppered with hints of Americana, roots rock and folk with vocals that owe a debt to Neil Young. The EP’s clear highlight is its opening track—their namesake song—“Friendly People”. It’s a tremendous, positive track buoyed by a horn section in the bridge which lends a mariachi feel. “A Lot of Work To Do” brings out Harvest-era Neil Young, starting as a plaintive acoustic ditty which builds slowly into a passionate electric number. Closing track, “Branches”, follows the same acoustic-to-electric path. As the song builds, it introduces tribal rhythms that are reminiscent of 80s indie-punk legends, the Volcano Suns. Friendly People are scheduled to record their debut full-length in March. If the Friendly People EP is indicative of what we can expect from this young group’s next batch of tunes it will be a record to keep an eye on later in 2012.--George Dow