Far Away Stables - Behind the Bookcase EP
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: August 12, 2012
It seems like a bit of a throwback that Australian rockers Far Away Stables would channel a sound that has honestly been a bit tucked away in the past few years. Sure, five or so years ago the band’s massive guitars and high-flying vocals would have lumped them into a crowd filled with such names as 30 Seconds to Mars and Saosin. Far Away Stables’ EP Behind the Bookcase lives and dies by that sound though, as memories of those bands will be tough to deny in the originality department. However, the songwriting is strong enough that a lack of completely severing those ties doesn’t derail these tracks completely, making for a quite solid chunk of rock that doesn’t hold back on giving us a pretty atmospheric vibe in the process.
It’s tough to give a first impression that is positive when you’re first getting heard, and in all honesty, opener “Alexandria” is a tough sell with a short run time and arguably the biggest flop of the bunch. The six minutes floating through wispy vocals and humble guitar lines on “A Beggar’s Plea” makes up for it though, as the band flexes between wall-of-sound bursts and simpler plucking passages that serve well in the balance of dynamics. The title track rocks a bit harder though, as the upbeat chorus punches with some well-executed screaming and racing guitar licks – a welcome ace in the hole to help break up the band’s generally mid-tempo writing style.
Not everything is as well-executed though, as “The Art of Madness” is a bit too repetitive for its own good in the constant cycling of the opening riff throughout bits and pieces of the entire track. The wandering moments of this track help keep it from a complete loss though, whether it is the moments of dissonance or a second verse break of claps and dotted strumming. Ender “Such is Life” brings things to a rock-out climax, teetering different rhythmic fits that allow the vocals to truly take the center stage at times. The guitars and vocals play off each other at a level not quite matched on the EP, as the musical portion of this track goes everywhere from near chaos to piano-led penancing. It has its fair share of ups and downs, but where it stumbles a bit, there’s realistically a step towards the goal of a cohesive sound on this track that allows the band to switch back and forth between their grand tendencies and sprinkled aggression.
The bigger gripe I’d have to say with this EP lies with the production. Sometimes, actually more often than not, the vocals seem a bit above the mix rather than blending in to match them. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but in certain tracks the guitars seem to be a notch or two below everything else, and putting even your arguably strongest aspect on that much of a spotlight is kind of a bummer when it should feel a bit more like a collaborative effort.
But all in all, Far Away Stables aren’t blazing a new trail, but revisit old sounds with enough vigor and prowess to keep our attention with a bit of flair in the process. Whether it is the huge choruses or the spread out guitar flickers, there’s more than enough here to make these guys worth a spin or two.