Back to basics
"Steep Bay" is a great concept. The End of America has taken music back to its purest form. This is achieved by finding a place as rural as possible which is only accessible by boat and without any studio recording facilities as such or even any power for that matter. Drag your equipment out there, including your guitar and little two mic, battery powered recording device and write and record nine tracks, laying them down unedited. Incidentally the album is named after the location. Now, something as far fetched as this can only present an artistic masterpiece or be a total waste of time and effort. We are about to find out.
TEOA consists of Brendon Thomas (Vocals, Guitar, Banjo and Mandolin), James Downes (Vocals, Guitar and Percussion) and Trevor Leonard (Vocals and Guitar).
Initially the first track, 'Are You Lonely', kicks off in a promising way and briefly reminded me of some of Syd Barrett's recordings. But then the rest of the album is filled with Crosby Stills Nash and Young sounding harmonies and acoustic guitars.
A couple of disappointments were 'Diving Rock' and 'Oh Mousey'. What is the point of recording the band jumping in the lake? That's quite simply what the track, 'Diving rock', is. Confused? Yes, so was I, as it is totally out of context and means absolutely nothing more than changing the number of tracks from eight to nine by adding another title. The lyrics of 'Oh Mousey' is simply "What is freedom to a mouse in a jar?" backed up with some harmonies of "Oh Mousey". What were they smoking out there?
Generally, the lyrics of all the tracks are quite basic and sound like they've been made up on the spot. The music is calm and gentle and not a bad recording considering the circumstances, location and lack of production. The harmonies are great and all the musicians are clearly great artists. I just feel they could have done a little more. Perhaps changed the style of the songs a little and recorded some without the constant CSNY sounding harmonies.
I must add that it seems like a massive trip to make just for a quick 20min recording. I think the concept is great, but the result is a bit disappointing. There are only four songs that barely scrape over the three minute mark and the rest are barely a verse or not even songs.