By Brian Tucker
There’s intensity to Deep Ecology’s debut release, regardless of a song’s speed – raw qualities to the music and vocals that echo The Doors, notably their energy and dark, sparkling atmosphere. It’s a curious nod given the group’s founders – Justin Codair and Evan Baker, and their fondness for Bob Dylan. Still, it’s the rawness and immediacy that paints the group’s debut EP best, be it musically or Baker’s singing and lyrical openness.
“Hands” opens the EP with Baker’s vocals awash in wailing and a sense of desperation. It makes for a tense combination, paired with Codair’s frenetic, tribal drumming. Baker’s fire grows during the three minute song, from guttural howl to sheepish carefulness. It’s declarative, defiant in its belief that people are on their own and espousing strident need for self-reliance.
Baker sings, “It’s God’s world no more,” meaning no one will come in at the last moment to save humanity from the mess they’ve created. Hence the band name derived from a philosophy that everything affects everything else. Lyrically, subject matter is serious such as depression illustrated through a man and woman on “Weeping Willow.”
The song is slippery – crash-bang drumming interlaced with cooing background vocals and sparse la-la-la-s to underscore it. It’s a highlight amongst the five whose construction is both whimsical and heartbreaking, emboldened by early 70s sounding background vocals similar to those on a Leon Russell song.
Indie rock like this is fresh air, bereft of overt polish and coloring. It’s more about shadows and sentiment than typical song construction. Baker sounds haunted, anger just below the fault line paired with jangly guitars and raw-nerve drumming that keeps things alive and uneasy.
But Deep Ecology can’t help but be catchy, evident on the mystical, faintly psychedelic “Blue Basil Eyes.” On it Baker channels early 90s grunge music and witchy qualities of 60s rock music. “Shame” has a folksy demeanor and “Man Lips” is a barn burner, where guitar playing is cagey and grizzled.
Deep Ecology is a fine, promising debut. The band grew out of Codair and Baker playing together, later adding members from local band Onward, Soldiers who also contributed to this EP’s material. Deep Ecology is prepping new material that’s supposed to be different than what’s found here. Still, the combination is potent if not promising, and the expectation of new songs is worth the wait.