August 28, 2005

The Earlies "These Were The Earlies"

Sometimes, we Americans are the last to know. Take, for instance, The Earlies. Over the past few years, this half-Texan, half-British band quietly self-released a handful of really, really beautiful singles and EP's. There's nothing particularly unique about a band self-releasing music without the world's notice. When it's a wonderfully talented band like The Earlies, though, you'd hope that somebody, anybody would say, "hey, these guys are awesome, you need to hear them!" Which, of course, is exactly what happened last year. When These Were The Earlies was released, it was released to overwhelmingly glowing acclaim, making many critics' year-end lists, and rightfully so. But because it wasn't released over here, America didn't get the chance to hear it.

Be that as it may, the album is finally seeing release, and this musical wrong has been righted. It's a good thing, too, because The Earlies possess a sound that's desperately lacking in today's staid indie-rock scene. Where bands get caught up in their sound and using their sound as a bit of a gimmick, The Earlies reeks of sincerity. Of course, when half of your band is on another hemisphere and you make your music via the post, it's obvious you're making music for the love of it. Even though These Were The Earlies is nothing more than a glorified singles collection, it's amazingly cohesive; so seamless is their music, you'd swear that these guys were in the same room throughout the entire recording process. It's hard to imagine a band creating The Polyphonic Spree's orchestral grandness via The Postal Service's long-distance method, but that's exactly what they've done.

How special these musicians must be, to produce such beautiful music in such a unique way! Forget comparisons to anyone--The Earlies have a sound all their own; they are a truly original band. Comparisons to the Beach Boys, Mercury Rev, The Polyphonic Spree, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and The Beatles are understandable, but they're not only too obvious, they don't serve The Earlies justice. That's what's so impressive about These Were The Earlies. Whether it's the swirling psychedelics of "25 Easy Pieces" or the tribal horns and drums of "Devil's Country," it's hard not to find something instantly charming about this record. Check out the fascinating one-two finale of "Bring it Back Again" and "Dead Birds"--from beauty to loudness and then tranquility, it's simply breathtaking. Dig those drop-dead gorgeous harmonies on "Morning Wonder," because no one's created harmonies that good in decades. After one listen, this record's status as a single collection instantly becomes moot; These Were The Earlies is as solid and cohesive as any fully developed album, if not more so; these songs belong together in a way that transcends mere compilation.

Though the album is full of wonderful songs, the true winner here is the mind-blowingly wonderful "Wayward Song." Start with a haunting bassoon. Throw in a pennywhistle that instantly reminds of "The Fool on the Hill" and lyrics that are so sunny and bright and positive and uplifting, and you've got a magical experience just waiting to happen. Then, the song crescendoes upwards and upwards, a symphony of sound growing louder and louder, going higher, higher, higher...and then this beautiful song, this wonderful sonic creation, it ends, quietly, gently. I heard this song nearly two years ago and instantly fell in love. Believe me, the song's magical spell is instantaneous; the need to hear it again, immediate. It will move you to tears and it will remind you just how powerful the power of music can be.

It's time for this band to stop being England's little secret. It's high time the world birthed a band like The Earlies. Now, all you need to do is hear it. Play catch-up and seek out These Were The Earlies immediately.

--Joseph Kyle

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