Cold Comes To Claim EP
Of all the folk-infused subgenres that have been reborn and experienced increased notoriety in recent years, few excite me like southern gothic does. You know, the sort of music that conjures up a creepy version of The Carter Family penning songs that would befit a William Faulkner or Walker Percy novel. Stylistically, you start with Appalachian country-gospel, but you take it out of the hands of hillbillies, troll it through Sacred Harp, steep it first in some blues and then in classical music, and then let it come to rest on a darkened backporch somewhere in Alabama or Mississippi. What I enjoy most about tunes of this nature is that the penchant for storytelling reigns supreme, but it’s elevated by greater artistic vision and ability, which sounds sort of elitist, but I like being upfront with my bias.
Brontosaurus rests firmly in this tradition on its debut release, the Cold Comes To Claim EP. In terms of the group’s influences, I hear heady mix of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, The National, Neutral Milk Hotel, and vintage Southern Gospel overtones. Furthermore, these six songs are marked by a distinct proclivity for keen instrumentation and arrangements that know how to flow through a delirious set of moods. While a tortured vocal vibe predominates (the most obvious and familiar country/folk touchstone), I’m enamored with the strength of the piano and organ lines, and the guitar tones – whether we’re talking about acoustic, electric, plucked, or strummed – are rich, warm, and evocative.
The dynamics are of the quiet-loud-quiet-loud variety, but they’re never too annoying or predictable, and there’s this earnest, plaintive tone to most tracks that manages to never be overly sentimental in orientation. There’s an excellent temperament throughout, as grim and brooding sections ebb and flow into sincere, heartfelt regions with ease and without breaking character. The ideas on display might be relatively recognizable to the practiced ear, but the interplay of the vibrant drums, layered percussion, and guitar licks present rather interesting variations that I find quite engaging.
Most importantly to the success of the Cold Comes To Claim EP, Brontosaurus never reaches for easy, safe emotional highs and lows. You want to walk on the band’s journey, and you appreciate that the guys don’t sugarcoat the experience. “Beware” and “Mouths Move,” which open and close things respectively, serve as the standout tracks to a nifty little record that, in the classic southern gothic tradition, reminds you that, despite how dark it is right now, there’s light somewhere, and you’re going to find it eventually.