Northern Faces – Southern Places EP
Record Label: Equal Vision Records
Release Date: March 5, 2013
When I attended Equal Vision’s SXSW showcase, Northern Faces were the one band that I was entirely unfamiliar with. I knew they had been signed recently, but that was all I knew. Nonetheless, their set was a diverse blend of gritty blues influences with some old-fashioned rock, and it definitely caught my ears. Similarly, their first EP, Southern Places, blends these elements into six very diverse cuts.
Honestly, there’s a lot to take in here. Sure it’s only six tracks, but each track is considerably different than the others. This is a band that can go in many different directions. The crazy thing is that each direction actually works. Hearing the opening “Under My Skin,” you’re just expecting a mid-tempo rock EP, with elements of the Foo Fighters if Foo had a more southern rock influence. However, both “Poor Moonlight” and “Side of the Road” shake things up, with gritty guitar tones creating old-fashioned rock jams that would please fans of The Black Keys. “You Not Me” is something like what a rock band version of Coldplay would sound like – in a good way. The easy-going guitars and drums keep the track in mid-tempo territory, and vocalist Bryan Shortell proves he can sing a variety of styles.
So yeah, as I said, it’s a lot to take in. There are some Foo Fighter influences (“Under My Skin”), some nods at The Black Keys (“Poor Moonlight” and “Side of the Road”), and perhaps less theatrical hints at The Dear Hunter (“Dark Days”). Northern Faces travel all over the map with this EP, but it works out for the four members. Shortell can clearly hold his ground on all areas of the playing field. The band clearly doesn’t believe in boundaries, as each track sounds different than the track before it. Southern Places will surely appeal to any fan of different rock influences, as it surely put Northern Faces on my 2013 map.