Eastern Conference Champions | Ameritown (Suretone/Fontana)

cd_easternconfThis is truly an aural pleasure, a distinct and engaging listening experience more than a lyrical discovery.






There's something so utterly captivating about Josh Ostrander's voice. Equal parts nasally and lazy Thom Yorke, it is nonetheless unique and addictive. Following a spring teaser three-song demo, Eastern Conference Champions have finally fulfilled our longing with a full-length, Ameritown.

After the inviting but unchallenging opener, "The Box," is "Noah." The driving drumbeats and pointed guitars create a high-energy background for Ostrander's almost nonchalantly delivered lines. This is truly an aural pleasure, a distinct and engaging listening experience more than a lyrical discovery.

"Some Sorta Light" takes a minute and a half to rise above a muted lullaby; once it hits, though, it's nearly anthemic. Listening to "Stutter" with its marching drumbeat and symphonic piano, I'm struck by how textured and rich these songs are. The voice, simple yet individual, is merely the hook, or maybe the grounding. The progression of each song is so unique, experimental yet familiar at every turn. These aren't verse-chorus-verse numbers, though they're rooted in the traditional molds.

"Single Sedative" is more in your face, borrowing heavily from garage rock and punk. "Yuppy Hipster Fuck" is more Flaming Lips-esque in its incorporation of odd soundscapes in the intro, before giving way to a galloping beat and gang backing vocals.

Where the advance felt more experimental indie (it couldn't have just been the novelty of the voice…could it?), Ameritown is definitely harder edged, a conglomeration of styles and experimentation while remaining firmly under the umbrella of rock.

To kick off "Pitch a Fit," Ostrander assumes a female identity and sings, "I had a miscarriage when I was 18 years old/ and I didn't know why." Simpler and stripped down, the song draws from folk's tales of woe and hardship. It's a sparse and sparkling oasis amid the harder-edged and faster tracks.

"Gucci No. 3" sounds just as fabulous as it did on the early demo; twisted and surging, it stands above the other solid and deserving songs as being utterly addictive and memorable. Also from the demo, "Nice Clean Shirt" is driving and dark; as the pace surges and Ostrander delivers his lines near-monotone, it feels more than a little bit dangerous. "I've been thinking/ in the state I'm in/ I should not be driving."

Following the slower ‘Rabbit Hole" and its group calls of "Let me get out/ yeah, yeah," the disc winds down even further with "Hollywood." Ostrander is joined on vocals by a female counterpart and sleigh bells, lending a homey, old-time feel to an otherwise un-homey tale of drugs, alcohol and betrayal.

Just when you're sorry to see it all end, ECC throw in a hidden track (followed by an audible cough). The song starts slow, building to where Ostrander delivers lines near-shout. The perfectly uplifting ending to the perfectly warped and inventive Ameritown. A | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, The Velvet Teen

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