Monday, February 22, 2010
Eagle Scout Sprouts 'New Hands'
By Matt Stuttler
Greenville College’s own Eagle Scout will be releasing their debut full length New Hands on February 16. A culmination of four years’ worth of material, including re-recordings of “Kites” and “Spies Like Us” that previously appeared on their second EP Pandamonium!, Eagle Scout treads new waters and layers on New Hands.
The album oozes and aches with gritty distorted punk guitars (discovered since the last release) and quick punchy delay lines from guitarists Robert Varner and Ben Helman. The same intensity is there, but with an almost new vigor that comes along with the progression and tightness of a consistently maturing band. The hard hitting hardcore influenced dance beats (courtesy of drummer Kyle “Rocky” Collman) and sing-alongs (courtesy of the entire band) have also come along for the ride, but with a sharp intelligence to them, reminiscent to a more spacey and experimental Tokyo Police Club.
The album, produced by Matt Goldman (Copeland, Anathallo, Underoath), showcases vocalists Brandon Hunter and Hen Belman’s high/low dynamic, sometimes verging on voice cracking pronouncements to severe yelps of emotion bundled into man form. Keyboardist Jeremiah Clark finishes the line up out with his smooth and atmospheric lines, adding that extra layer that puts Eagle Scout above the level of most typical indie dance bands. “At Arm’s Length” opens the album with the scathing lyrics “we gave greatly to a cause we never knew/just to prove we did our part/despite my best efforts to stop the bleeding/my veins ran dry and I realized just where we went wrong” which sets the pattern for the lyrical content of the rest of the philosophical/cynical almost ironically joyful vocals that continue throughout the album.
“Currents” glides in with a nice little delay ditty that later bursts into a full out yell that embodies the water/waves theme of the song, complete with a pounding bass drum and synths that woosh. The most upbeat track of the album “Death Rays” races in a similar style to the movie Death Race, with malice on its nice trimmed college beard and spikes on its spinning tires of punk doom. The track doesn’t let up until it hits a metaphorical speed bump/breakdown that is sure to be a climatic moment in a live setting with the shout along “A space suit/can’t save us/won’t save us now”. The reduxes of both “Spies like Us” and “Kites” give both songs a facelift, with stronger vocal approaches and a realer feeling all around. The intro of “The Decay” despite its title brings in the listener in with a jangly little tambourine joint with a slick as butter guitar line. Probably the lightest/slowest song of the album, Eagle Scout still manages to get across their point, even if the song tends to decay itself a bit. “I Am Your Ghost” and “Weaker Science” both carry the listener on towards the end of New Hands, decked out with more smart lines and catchy hooks. “No Devil Lived On” and “Our Body is Walls” round out the experience with nods to the founding fathers of both punk and indie rock, keeping the toes tapping, the eyes reading the lyrics, and the head nodding in agreement.
New Hands is an exquisite release that is bursting with catchy, abrasive, atmospheric tunes. The band has grown in both popularity and maturity, leading them to be even more accessible to the ear of the current college music scene. The album art is sweet and icy looking. Not only does Eagle Scout keep the kids dancing, but also remind them there is something going on in both a local and global setting just below the surface that isn’t quite right. If you’re into Foals, Tokyo Police Club, Friendly Fires, or Los Campesinos, give these cool dudes a try.