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Elephant Shortcut - Paper Birds EP (Album Review)

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0
Elephant Shortcut - Paper Birds EP (Album Review) - Cover Art(87236)

Elephant Shortcut is the name of a young indie/folk rock project originated by founders Mitch and Georginna. The Paper Birds EP was developed after the duo performed at a talent show at their university, which they went on to garner an honorable mention and significant praise from other students. Though they believed this would be their only performance, they were continually asked to perform over and over again. Music became much more of a serious endeavor for these two musicians, and after some additional songwriting and recordin; Elephant Shortcut was officially conceived as the monikor these two musicians would produce music under. Though this is a 5-track EP, Elephant Shortcut shows a lot of promise for their future studio work; which will be a full length and feature a newly added drummer named Emily.

SOUND:

The sound on Elephant Shortcut's debut Paper Birds EP is a great blend of quality production and a lo-fi/indie-folk feel. At some points, the overall sound can be a little bit thin; but this lends itself to the minimalistic feel of the music; so it really works stylistically. Upon listening to this album, I was instantly reminded of similar artists like Tilly and the Wall and Bright Eyes to a certain degree; both in terms of the sound quality as well as the overall atmosphere conveyed.

The tracks also manage to create individual atmospheres, while also maintaining a lot of similarities and nuances. Acoustic guitars play a heavy role on this EP, yet the vocal melodies and catchy lyrics; plus the occasional incorporation of percussion instruments like sleigh bells and shakers (like on the tracks "Paper Birds" and "Blue Jays") add diversity to tracks that could have easily fallen prey to apathetic monotony.

Other mainstream acts I immediately found Elephant Shortcut to be similar to include She & Him, Making April, and River City Extension. Elephant Shortcut is able to chizzle themself into a little niche wherein they incorporate some standard indie folk elements, and combine them into a thoroughly enjoyable and fairly unique listening experience in the form of the Paper Birds EP. While there were a few occasions of "off" sounds (as I would describe them), they are often easy to overlook as this genre of music is notorious for having a lo-fi feel, as well as minimalism in terms of the actual production values and time spent on production itself. Where the leads me is here: if you are a fan of indie/folk rock music already, you will have no problem incorporating this into your collection. If you are just a casual listener to music, you will also have no problem with the sound elements of this music.

COMPOSITION AND INSTRUMENTATION:

Elephant Shortcut's Paper Birds EP is fairly barebones in terms of the compositions, as well as in terms of the instrumentation as well. The primary focus of this EP is on the acoustic guitars, as well as the vocal duet we see between the two like-minded musicians. As a result, the music contained on this album is not particularly "complex," though I don't believe that was the initial goal in it's creation. Rather, songs of love, longing, and other similar themes are composited in a very minimalistic sort of way. I know that is coming to be a reoccurring word in this review, but it describes the music of Elephant Shortcut very well in my book.

The compositions are fairly standard, though the vocal duet breaks up the verse sections in many ways to make the tracks much more interesting then the typical fare that is found in this genre of music. The actual riffs and chord progressions are wholly enjoyable, though. I must say, from the opening track "Virginia" I was immediately hooked by the georgeous folk melodies that carried the track so well. This vibe is maintained throughout the remainder of the EP as well.

Ultimately, there is very little to say with regards to the composition and instrumentation contained on this album. The various riffs, chord progressions, and song structures are satisfying; but at the end of the day not the highlight of the Paper Birds EP (for me at least).

VOCALS AND LYRICS:

The vocals on this album are, quite frankly, top notch. Every track contained vocals from both Mitch and Georginnia, and they are performed superbly. Emotion runs high in this indie folk tracks. Most notably in my mind is the slow vocal crescendos that build from the verses through to the choral sections on the track "Two Toned." The vocal melodies themselves are also very well done, and even have a natural rhythm that is lovely to listen to. Fortunately, the vocalists also show a great amount of diversity in their voices from track to track. Mitch often sings in a mid-range, while Georginnia tends to sing at higher ranges; though on occasion they will trade off and sing in different ranges, which shows the talent of these singer-songwriters as well as the ability to hold the listeners attention from track to track.

The lyrics are also very entertaining. At points extremely cute (such as on the final track "Cowboys & Indians) and at other points a bit of standard indie rock fare. As a result, the actual lyrics have unique elements; yet will be instantly attractive to fans of this style of music. Some standout lyrical verses that stood out in mind, to a degree that they made me get goosebumps (in major part because of their excellent vocal delivery) are from the track "Blue Jay":

your hands fit into my own
this finally feels like home
look how my love has grown
look how our love has grown

miles have no mercy on us
and so we've built our trust
i'll have to pay my time
but i feel that this is right

at time this may feel like a trial
well, we'll have to wait a while
this is our time to grow
and then we'll finally know

and it's only us, only us
that i see
a window through the trees shows
the stars out for you and me, and me
to see

As you can easily see, the lyrics on the Paper Birds EP by Elephant Shortcut are excellent, wholly positive and a beautiful exploration of humanity and love (among other things I am sure).

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Elephant Shortcut is undoubtedly a very entertaining band with 5-catchy tracks they have put together in the form of the Paper Birds EP. I found many elements in these songs to have unique characteristcs, though the music itself fits very comfortably in the indie/folk rock niche they are working within. If you are a fan of acoustic music, as well as a duet of masculine and feminine vocal deliveries; as well as some great lyrics and atmospheres, then I have no doubt that you will find enjoyment in Elephant Shortcuts debut EP. I would give this album a 7.5/10 because the music is downright excellent, though it does not take too many risks.
 
I imagine that with the incorporation of some new musical elements, especially in terms of adding a drummer, their follow up full-length album will be just wonderful to listen too. I will be following Elephant Shortcut as they continue on their musical career (which I believe is destined for some form of greatness, though how we all define that is definitely subjective).

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Elephant Shortcut Website
Elephant Shortcut Facebook

Elephant Shortcut - Live Performance


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