By Cher Guevara, Staff Writer
Aaron Lee Tasjan and his merry crew returned a month after Found Songs Vol. 1 to deliver us round two. Another EP of side cuts and forgotten songs, Vol. 2 finds the group in more of a rock’n’roll mood than the straight-up folk sounds of Vol. 1. Tasjan and the band have plenty of sonic tricks up their sleeve here.
The gang kicks off the EP with “Cutless Cruiser,” which starts out with a stomping bass and drum line from Brett Bass and Mark Stepro before launching into an all-out honky-tonk rocker. The mean guitar licks of Tasjan and Chris Masterson cut loud and clear with some blipping noisy undertones from Eleanor Whitmore. Since Tasjan is singing about a girl with a 70’s throwback vibe, the music is perfect; it sounds like something pulled from an old 8-track tape with a contemporary flare. I’m surprised this one hasn’t been making the rounds on the radio; it has the makings of a hit.
Slick pop sounds are front and center with “It’s Good to Be You”. There’s not much of a country vibe here: it sounds like a Top 40 pop-rock single. And that’s not a bad thing. I always dig it when a band steps away from their established genre and does something out of left field. While I admit to not being a fan of poppy rock n roll, Tasjan did an amazing job here, with his radio-friendly vocals backed with spacey guitar riffs and some outstanding tom and bass drum work from Stepro.
“Lonely and Clueless” brings the band back to the country fold, with acoustic guitar riffs up front and center, backed with some solid thumping drumming and bass work. While it’s certainly country-flavored, it’s definitely of the pop radio variety and damn, it’s good. I know, I know, I’m not usually big on pop anything, but once in a while, a band comes along that can do it right, and this is one of those groups.
Found Songs Vol. 2 comes to a close with “Life is a Movie”, the only out-and-out folk number on here. Punctuated with slamming drumming, cut through with nearly-weeping acoustic guitars, and a bebop sounding bass riff, this one slices right through to the heart, especially with Tasjan’s half-spoken vocals. About halfway through, the piano comes in and pulls it all together. The last minute ends in a chaotic crescendo and the guitars feedback to silent. It left me floored. This is the strongest ending the band could hope for, especially for such a brief EP.
Looking at Found Songs Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, I’d like to think of them as the A Side and B Side of an LP. Vol. 1 was much more folky and traditional in sound, with the band showing their chops in twang, and Vol. 2 showing how much they can out-and-out rock. And of course, both EPs end with cuts way out of left field. I wasn’t familiar with Tasjan before reviewing these records, but I’m impressed. He and his crew ain’t afraid to try new sounds, new styles, and make them all their own. I recommend listening to these records back-to-back so you can get a fuller sense of their sound.