Oaks: Field Beat Review (Show tonight at Kitty Cat Klub)
For a group with minimal moving parts (just two members), Oaks have proven adept at creating rich tapestries of darkly hypnotic noise over their short existence as a band. Over the six songs on their sophomore EP, the band create a sound that is larger than the sum of it parts, a commanding record that both distills and expands the style they first introduced last year on their debut, self titled EP.
The first thing you notice upon dropping the needle on this record are the sharp, steely guitar lines, cutting through the mix in an especially forceful way, buttressed by a confident bass lines and the efficient rhythm of (what I think is) a drum machine. The tracks range from the thick, grungy fuzz of the title track to EP opener “All Mine,” which rides on an XX like staccato guitar riff and a laser focused drum beat. For the most part the songs walk a tightrope of accessible melodies and abrasive atmosphere, never venturing too far down the “pop” avenue while not ever pushing the listener further than they want to go (outside of the noisy instrumental album closer “Some of the Do,” which may push just outside for some). The success of the record lies in the melding the attitude of dark new wave material with the fleshed out guitar work and strident vocals of lead singer Erica Krumm. The EP gives the feel that it is meant to soundtrack a walk down a foggy alley in some rough part of the city, collar up on your leather jacket, Lou Reed sunglasses on at midnight, ready to take on the world.
While both the songs and the EP are concise, Field Beat doesn’t feel light or lacking in the way some EP’s can, leaving the listener feel like the final product is unfinished. Even at six songs and a hair under 20 minutes, the songs are fleshed out enough, building upon themselves with ringing tension and feedback, that it feels like a heavy trip that you want to start over when the record ends. Oaks have proven again with their second EP that you don’t need a whole army to make a powerful, commanding and big sounding record. Listen to the EP below and grab the limted edition record from their bandcamp page. See them tonight at the 1 year anniversary of the Modern Radio night at the Kitty Cat Klub with the always great Miami Dolphins.
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