Side projects are a touchy subject for some.
On one hand, fans sometimes see a member from a band venturing off into some other direction, causing them to worry about the future of the initial group.
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, a side project can be a blessing – an artist’s chance to momentarily reinvent their sound, to blow off some steam in a new arena, to reignite their creativity and bring a new life back to the main project (which is why I’m constantly thankful for The Horrible Crowes, but that’s another story). Here, we have the latter.
As a whole, Eagles in Drag – which is built from The Maine’s John O’Callaghan and Jared Monaco, Eric Halvorsen (ex- A Rocket to the Moon) Trey Nickelsen, and Ryan Gose of This Century and Stop Dead, takes the members’ various musical backgrounds and styles and compresses them into a mix that’s heavier, darker, even psychedelic at times, and a good way’s away from anything we’ve heard from their main projects.
Within the first seconds of “Pretty Girl Monster,” which carries a vapor-like eeriness and a heavy bassline, it’s clear that, while these may be some familiar names, this will be anything but customary. Later, “One Four Six” thrashes its way in with an introduction that feels like it caught a flight from ‘90s Seattle, while the masterfully-scattered “Dog Days,” which is the baby of the EP just shy of the 3:30 mark, could find a home just about anywhere.
On the chanciest of the five tracks, the 5-minute “Buzz” perfectly captures what a side-project should be. With its unusual instrumentation and O’Callaghan’s vocals being pushed to their limits (and impressively delivering), the end result is something exceptional. By the end, the group musters any last traces of energy and madness and crams it into the six and a half-minute finale “Black Dolphin,” concluding with a four-minute instrumental outro filled with cackling voice samples, reverberating guitar feedback, thumping basslines, and plenty more.
As I had mentioned before, there’s a danger that comes along with trying something new. But, O’Callaghan has preemptively calmed all doubts and worries over this new endeavor, assuring that this was just the product of his “thirst for songwriting and passion for creating music. … The Maine is my true baby.“
So, we can breathe easy over that. And if this project is just “a few dates with a chick you know you’re never going to call again,” as he puts it, then let’s hope that this hypothetical metaphorical couple bumps into each other on the street again sometime in the future.
Release Date: March 25th, 2014
1. Pretty Girl Monster
2. Dog Days
4. One Four Six
5. Black Dolphin
Eagles in Drag are:
John O’Callaghan – Vocals, guitar
Trey Nickelsen – Guitar
Jared Monaco – Guitar
Eric Halvorsen – Bass
Ryan Gose – Drums
Written by Eric Riley