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Review of Syracuse-Based Band, Leylines’ Self-Titled Debut EP

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Leylines EP, Review

LeylinesIf it were physically possible to plastic wrap honesty in a jewel case, Syracuse-based band Leylines’ self-titled EP would be it. After putting out the EP on June 23, 2011, Leylines wasted no time getting on the road to promote it. The band, which is currently still on tour with another Syracuse-based band, Of Fortune and Fame, was nice enough to send me a hard copy of the EP from the closest post office they could find. When the package finally arrived at my doorstep with a return address that simply stated “somewhere in Maryland,” I knew it had to be the record I was waiting to hear.

Singer/guitarist Mike Bowes, bassist Jason Eldridge and drummer/vocalist Nate Felty make up this indie-rock trio with mathy, intricate guitar work resembling that of Minus the Bear, and heartfelt, raw, vocals that are better known from the pop-punk era of the 90s. The six-song disc, which runs about a half-hour in length, artfully sums up the relatable tale of a journey through the trials and tribulations of life. Loss, anxiety over love, growing up and the importance of timing are just a few of the main themes that run through the sound waves on this album.

The first track titled “Pilot” starts powerfully and moves quickly, displaying an array of catchy guitar riffs, booming bass lines and attention-grabbing drums patterns–perfect for an opener. I became increasingly impressed with each second that passed listening to the second song on the album, titled “Sarolea,” but this track is also where one of my only problems with the EP arises. A female voice (Mariah Senecal) is featured on “Sarolea” and her voice is used to enhance the meaning of the lyrics, having to do with the anxieties of love and longing. Although Senecal’s voice was a nice contrast to Bowes’, I thought that the appearance of a female on only one track took away from the unity of the album.

This one complaint is easily masked by the remarkable guitar work. The string tapping technique used by Bowes on guitar is where the comparison to Minus the Bear comes from, but the way the notes were chosen, and the continuous fluttering pattern that runs through the entire song is what sets Leylines apart in a category of their own. After only listening to two tracks, I could already tell that these guys can really play their instruments well, and give great care and attention to the composition of their songs.

“Box Elder Bug” is the strongest vocally, and the lyrics are the kind you sing loudly alone in your car. “Alpha, Bravo, Gnarly,” the fourth song on the album, shows more of a pop influence and gives the album a perfect mix of genres without straying too far from the indie-rock base.

My favorite song on the album was easily the fifth track, “Awkward Crop.” This mid-tempo jam seems to be the result of seeing yourself cropped out of a picture with someone you used to be close with. “You look the same as I remember but with longer hair/ the awkward crop doesn’t bother me at all” sings Bowes. This song is my favorite because of the way a simple idea was taken and made into a subtle confrontation through beautifully relatable lyrics.

The final track, suitably titled “Finale,” brings in an interesting use of multifarious sounds and effect pedals. There is a lot going on as the bass, drums, and guitar all play together loud and hard. The vocals work perfectly here because they sound a bit more aggressive and angry in a desperate, longing, sort of way. “Finale” seems to be the last thoughts on an album that puts everything out on the table.

Overall, Leylines self-titled EP is a great first effort. If the hard work and determination that the band seems to be putting in continues, Leylines shouldn’t have any problem seeing the start of a growing fan base. After seeing the band perform the album live it only left me more impressed with the three humble, talented and passionate young men. For a band that has only been together six months, Leylines has enough musical merit to last for years to come.

–Elise Miklich is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.





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