It’s an easy thing to make comparisons for bands. There are the obvious influences in certain genres – pop/punk bands pay homage to Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Green Day, etc., things along those lines. That being said, there are those rare acts who, like a breath of fresh air, give you something you can’t quite place a finger on. Band in focus: The Epilogues. The fact that I can only think of one band off the top of my head to draw a strong correlation to (Vagrant Records alumni The Comas) is a pretty decent sign that I should be expecting something great.
The Denver quartet, comprised of vocalist Chris Heckman, bassist Jeff Swodoba, drummer Jason Hoke, and keyboardist Nate Hammond, throws together a mixture of sounds and styles into something entirely their own.
From the first notes of Cinematics, the guitar-hook and drum-roll intro of “The Shadow King,” the album delivers consistency that others neglect to provide. The smooth, gentle vocals and light strum of “Call Me a Mistake” lull you into a relaxation before Hoke leads the track into a heavier direction. Feedback and distortion connect this with the booming “My Misinformed ‘John Hughes’ Teenage Youth,” the first real standout on Cinematics. An echoing introduction repeats itself through a vocally-gorgeous chorus, supported by an eerie swirl of static-coated vocals.
Where “John Hughes” reaches for arena walls, the soft introduction of “Hunting Season” begs to be bounced off of the walls of dirty, sweaty, small clubs, not strictly due to the soaring vocals of Heckman, but the lyrics that support it – “Oh what have I become … / I can feel it now / Yet all the things I think I want are very things that push my friends aside / And I need them now, oh I need them now / I’m afraid it’s all for nothing.
The brief “Foxholes” winds into “Paradigm Shift,” a dance-inducing epic that grows more with each second. Featured on Rolling Stone’s site as a Daily Download, it’s an obvious choice to showcase The Epilogues’ skill set. Heckman’s vocals, whether clean or strained, are terrific, spotlighted by a supporting band performance that could make major-label bands feel like disappointed in themselves.
“Closer” brings a smooth shoegaze mood, while “Animals” is a dance-rock romp led by a heavy stomping drum and guitars that The Killers’ Hot Fuss could have used on a track or two. Tempo highs and lows counteract each other, dropping in and out without much warning.
A quickly-strummed acoustic guitar mirrors itself above a blipping kick drum until Heckman’s shouts lead into the chaotic “The Fallout,” filled with buzzing synth, precision drumming, and steady bass before fading away, bringing the title track in on its coattails. “Cinematics” is one-hundred-and-fifty-six seconds of the sounds of ebbing and flowing synthetic violins, pushing and pulling before arriving at “The Keene Act,” a nearly seven minute marathon that begins with the same swirling “Cinematics” ends with, and delivers another example of Heckman’s vocal range and capabilities.
With the exception of “Foxholes,” “The Wondrous World of Will Dupree” is Cinematics’ shortest track, timed in at just over a minute and a quarter. Somber, serene piano brings the listener by the hand into the finale “Saboteur,” a curveball of a song that starts softly before blowing the hinges off of the doors, morphing into a grand affair, ending Cinematics in perfect fashion.
The Epilogues are a do-it-yourself band, and always have been. A major label deal was within their reach, but it turned out that the cards weren’t dealt in their favor. However, the band took it in stride, taking their fate into their own hands. As a group, it seems they understand the importance of not wasting time. They’ve put a serious effort into producing a stellar album, and listeners’ time will not go to waste.
Total Runtime: 48 Minutes
Release Date: November 6th, 2012
1. The Shadow King
2. Call Me a Mistake
3. My Misinformed “John Hughes” Teenage Youth
4. Hunting Season
6. Paradigm Shift
9. The Fallout
11. The Keene Act
12. The Wondrous World of Will Dupree
The Epilogues is:
Chris Heckman – Vocals/guitar
Jeff Swodoba – Bass
Nate Hammond – Keys
Jason Hoke – Drums
Written By: Eric Riley