It's interesting to notice trends across the thousands of songs that come my way in a given month. For example, there was a minute where everyone's album covers were composite illustrations of tiny images associated with each song on the album -- usually drawn to look like a woodcut print. These people didn't necessarily know each other. It just...happened. The latest Hot New Thing seems to be putting out singles that tend to have luxurious run-times -- maybe five, six minutes. Now, I'm not one to stand on tradition, but a songs are meant to get to the point quickly. It doesn't matter how many cool tempo or key changes you've got -- if your lyrics are boring then it's not going to save you. If you're going to go big like that, you need to be good. The shortest song on Evan Bartels' debut album The Devil, God, and Me runs at 4:44. Bartels knows how to fill every second of this gargantuan album.
If you took Burn.Flicker.Die-era American Aquarium's intensity and added in some of Bill Mallonee's grandiosity (plus a healthy dose of Springsteen, obvs), you'd get something close to Bartels. I think I've worked out his formula, which is to have a first verse that'll knock you off your feet, a killer hook that sounds pleasantly familiar, and just a whole lot of chutzpah. Bartels' gruff vocals keep the songs engaging and the band's energy makes the songs a rush rather than self-indulgently long. The Devil, God, and Me has all the right ingredients to make it a favorite of anyone who's been around these parts a while. If you haven't heard about it yet, you're welcome.
Evan Bartels -- Official, Facebook, Purchase and Streaming Links
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