Release Date: Sep 22, 2009
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
With any number of heartfelt and vaguely anthemic indie rock bands helping to see out the first decade of the 21st century in America, it's less of an issue to find an epochal band among them and more of one to find a band that is consistently a pleasure to listen to in its own right. Well into a decade's worth of performances and recording, Early Day Miners manage that feat again on their sixth album, The Treatment, thanks to a sense of everything from classic '60s pop to an ear for keyboards that shade without adding pomp to a burst of post-punk guitar atmospherics that emerges in the oddest places, like the crisp and then queasy riffs on "So Slowly. " It's also noteworthy that the most prominent element of the songs might not be the singing (polite, hazy, never strained) but the rhythm section, a surprisingly supple and subtle unit, as readily heard on the crisp taps and tension of "The Surface of Things" and the hand-percussion lead of "How to Fall.
The first time I heard Early Day Miners was at a Wilco show in 2005. They were the opening act and, as my ears soon discovered, largely incomparable to the alt-country and rock sound that Jeff Tweedy et al perform. It was clear to me that—even there in the balcony seats with my neck strained and angled awkwardly toward the stage—Early Day Miners were cut from some variation of the shoegaze mold, using layered vocals and majestic repetition to create a wistful landscape of sound.
Founded in 2000 by Daniel Burton, formerly of Indiana instrumental post-rockers Ativin, Early Day Miners play structured, vocal-focused indie rock. Definitely still on the dark, emotional side of shameless slo-core, the band's sixth full-length has the same strengths and weaknesses as their previous offerings. [rssbreak] The songs have cool, memorable hooks and great guitar textures, but an overarching lack of enthusiasm hurts even their strongest material.
The first thing you notice about The Treatment, the sixth album from Bloomington, Indiana's Early Day Miners, is the relative lack of sonic cobwebs-- a bit unexpected from a band with a reputation for being shoegaze and slowcore revivalists. The percussion here is crisp, the tempos insistent-- even peppy at times-- and the guitar is slightly hazy but hardly dreamy. "In the Fire" and the Madchester echo of "How to Fall" are a far cry from musical wallpaper, and the band rarely embraces atmosphere for atmosphere's sake.