Monday, August 5, 2013

Eastern Conference Champions - Home Away EP

Eastern Conference Champions – Home Away EP
Suretone, 2007
Acquired: KJHK Music Staff, New, 2007
Price: $0
I love how in the process of listening to my records alphabetically I can go from a 7” that leaves me feeling really inspired to one that makes me feel like all of the inspiration has been siphoned from the world and deposited on a diaper island in the middle of the ocean. Not to say that Eastern Conference Champions make me think of a diaper island, or maybe they do, since that’s the first thing that came to mind. It’s not that they’d bad or anything. The shooting-for-the-alternative-rock-radio-airwaves thing they do is competent and the hooks are serviceable, but I just can’t help get the feeling that this band would let any corporation tack one of their songs in a commercial no matter what was being advertised. Huggies? Pampers? I don’t know. I don’t know why I have diapers on the brain. I don’t even know if a diaper island is a real thing (it is the title of a 2011 album by Chad VanGaalen). I think it might be that I feel like this music is full of shit. The first blurb on their Wikipedia page—the one that is supposed to give you the barebones of what you need to know about a band—notes “the band gained attention when it was announced that they would be featured on The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.” How depressing for that to be your claim to fame. Not that the soundtracks for the Twilight movies are awful or anything (no lie, I listened to the soundtrack for New Moon about fifty times when I was working 12 hour shifts at CD Tradepost back in 2009 and there quality jams on that. Or maybe my brain was seeping out of my skull and I imagined that), but c’mon. The rest of their Wikipedia page pretty much just lists personnel changes, record label drama, and TV placements in shows for teenagers (“Friday Night Lights,” “Gossip Girl,” “Melrose Place,” you get the picture). I’ve been trying to be less mean spirited, but patience for corporate bullshit is something I will never be able to possess. They note (possibly facetiously) that the reason they never took off was because their name was too long. I’d say it’s that none of it feels honest. The elements that work sound copy and pasted from Radiohead’s The Bends and I just can’t help but wonder what this band would sound like if they didn’t sound like they were trying to manufacture success. They’re a band that would move to Los Angeles than just exist in Philadelphia and be a real band. You can hear echoes of this stuff in Silversun Pickups, Mumford and Suns, the Lumineers, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and every other band today that tries to compensate for having no real emotional resonance by sounding big. Full of sound and fury and signifying nothing, etcetera. But that’s a whole nother rabbit whole that needn’t be gone down at this particular moment. The one song I did like was the rollicking “Navy Man,” which sounds surly and ramshackle and not like Radiohead. This band has skills. The songs are listenable and not terrible. It’s just I hate having to wonder what a band would sound like if they put some heart into their music. And I’m sure they would argue that their music is full of heart because what band wouldn’t argue that? I just get the impression that this is a band that wants to be $uccessful, even though they seem less shallow than most of the posers who try to make it as a rock band in Hollywood.

The video for "The Box" is actually pretty good. Kudos for the band for not going the route of every other mainstream alt-rock band and making some boring video of them on a stage rocking out and doucebagging it up with strobe lights/hot chicks. The animation is cool and really, despite the fact that the song is so obviously produced by Oasis producer Owen Morris and the Thom Yorke-esque histrionics are in full force, it's not a bad song. It's catchy and well-written, but it feels like it's putting up a front. 

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