As a reviewer who lives in Nebraska (yes, you read that correctly), I've been accused on more than one ocassion of not paying enough attention to the hometown crowd. While I've bought and enjoyed different albums from musicians that hail from the area (most recently Danse Macabre by The Faint, as well as albums by the now-defunct Lullaby For The Working Class), it's true that I haven't covered some of the bigger names in the area.
Truth be told, I've listened to several releases by some of the bigger names in area music (Bright Eyes, Cursive) and while I can appreciate what they've done and are doing, the music that I heard just didn't do a whole lot for me, therefore I didn't explore their music maybe as much as I should have. At any rate, Son Ambulance is the newest group from the area to catch my ear with their sound. Euphemystic might not be the most groundbreaking or original album ever, but it sure is an excellent full-length debut that shows a lot of promise.
After debuting their sound on a split EP with Bright Eyes last year, Son Ambulance followed-up quickly with this batch of 10 songs and 43 minutes of music. Ranging from filled-out epic to short, more experimental numbers, the group falls into a decidingly indie rock category, but they throw in plenty of nice little elements to give them a boost beyond the simple guitar/bass/drum combo. "An Instant Death" opens the release with a quiet beginning, but builds with some piano and swirling keyboards until the guitars start rocking and give it a nice release. "An Instant Birth" follows immediately with an instantly hummable melody and more outright rock sound before the disc drops off into the short, off-kilter track "Seven Days," which mixes drum machines with live percussion, piano, and filtered vocals.
"Maria In Motion" spices things up about midway through the disc with a bit of a cha-cha feel, and works a nice loud/quiet dynamic. The group falls into a bit of a cliche' on "I Promise You'll Never Grow Old" when breaking into the theme song from "Sesame Street" about two-thirds of the way through (how many times has that been done before?). Even with that slight stumble, though, things are redeemed on "A New Dress For Myself," when things are stripped down to the singing and great piano playing of singer Joe Knapp.
Although the music of the two groups is quite a bit different, the vocals of Knapp very much remind of me of David Bazan of Pedro The Lion (although I've heard others compare them to Ben Folds, which seems the easier comparison when he uses the piano I suppose). While that doesn't mean fans of one will definitely like the other, it is a small reference point that may appeal to some. With many different styles tried out on the 10 tracks, the album feels like a group still trying to work into a groove, but fortunately they pull most tracks off quite well. Perhaps I'll have to start hunting down some more local releases now.