standby - gone for a while
The five members of Standby are barely out of high school; yet possess a mastery of their instruments that extends far beyond their years. Their taste in music does as well, with some songs featuring references to bands like Rush and at times bears resemblance to some of the funkier stuff Coheed and Cambria have done except the guitars are primarily acoustic. I’ll touch on that later, but I need to restate this point. The guys that make up Standby have a great future ahead of them on the strength of their abilities alone.
The introductory track, "Waiting for a Train,” on their EP entitled Gone For A While, though brief, is quite beautiful. It's carried forward by a cello playing a sad melody while a double bass provides some rumble and a feeling of movement. "Circles", "Rain" and "Floo" showcase the band's jazz proficiency, with extended saxophone solos mixed into a more straightforward acoustic rock/pop song. "Eiderdown" finds their sound sitting closely with Jack Johnson's live shows. "Sweep" plays out like a classic Dave Matthews Band song, with complex guitars and drums that are playing polyrhythms. "T.O.B." is the most guitar-centric song on the album, featuring a remarkable intro and guitar solo. Along the way, each track is underpinned by remarkable bass riffs that help anchor the songs to the complex rhythms and grooves coming from the drums.
But for me, the standout tracks from the album have to be "For the Birds,” with its beautiful string arrangements and melody, and "Watch Your Step,” which features the strongest chorus on the album and heavy use of my favorite guitar chords. It's a masterwork. While they are a self-described progressive/alternative band, their liberal use of acoustic guitars creates a sound that is decidedly easy-listening. It isn't a sound that rewards laziness of the ear, but it does lend itself to a much more mellow sounding act than you would expect with that genre tag tied to it. That is to say, that I was surprised how relaxing a listening experience I had while preparing to write this review.
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