As I was listening to the new album Eastward Expansion from Eleven Seventeen I was thinking they have a lot in common with Postal Service. They produce smooth warm music that is made with clean guitars, electronic elements and are topped off with the inviting voice of Alex Daniel. As I read about the band not only does the music bear similarities but also the method behind the music is similar. Daniel who moved to Busan, South Korea from Fort Worth collaborated with Trevor Mason via Dropbox to make this album (very similar to Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello who collaborated while in different locations). Their release Eastward Expansion is based on lo-fi aesthetics that works more than it doesn't. There are a couple of well-done instrumental tracks as well as lyrically-based tunes that stood out to me.
The album starts with the “One Year Later,” which is seeped in a melancholy but it also provides a sense of solace. Clean guitars, organic drums and a warbly synth create a pleasant combination of sounds. Daniels has a soft, inviting voice with virtually no signs of aggression.
He has slightly downer lyrics on this tune but they also were pretty inventive. He sings, “More generous with my words / Less sure of what to say / Less infamous at parties for my alcohol intake / Less people to call friends /But I feel more content / Life just doesn't cut me at the knees.”
I really enjoyed the second song, which is a cover of Leonard Cohen's “Bird On A Wire.” It starts off sparsely with an acoustic guitar and Daniel singing. When the handclaps enter and the guitar changes to chords instead of picking, the song becomes hard not to like. There are lots of different emotions covered within a short time frame.
“Fighting That Sinking Feeling” does an excellent of combining organic instrumentation and electronic percussion. The guitar picking is somehow intensified and more meaningful with the addition of the electronics. There are a couple of highlights amongst the album you will want to check out such as “Have We No Teeth” as well as the Nine Inch Nails cover “Mr. Self Destruct.”
There are a number of songs that caught my attention on Eastward Expansion. Most of the originals were well written and the covers were unique renditions.
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