By Jordan Ottesen
With extensive touring and online plugs from people like Alex Rainbird and PewDie Pie’s girlfriend, Marzia, Indie-Pop band Cinders has become a well known and respected group in the Wasatch Front. Their most recent EP, Acoustics, Vol. 1, dropped on December 3rd, 2016, giving us a gentler side to familiar tunes like “Moody Blues,” “Locked Up,” and “Found” while introducing new tracks “Shine,” “Tbd,” and “Unhinged.”
The album begins with the simple folk-esque tune, “Shine.” Stylistically, it doesn’t differ much from what most would expect to hear from a folk-influenced indie band, but it’s terribly contagious nonetheless. I found myself wanting to sing along just after the first couple of listens.
The acoustic takes on “Moody Blues,” “Locked Up,” and “Found” are much appreciated. “Found” almost feels like it was meant to be stripped down in the first place. It just feels more genuine, and the complimenting piano line is a nice touch. It’s also a welcome change of pace to hear “Moody Blues” acoustically and sung at a lower octave. It really calms the tune down, allowing the listener to better digest the slightly sassy but still playful lyrics. Frank, she really doesn’t care about your cat.
“Tbd” is a small, but unique shift for Cinders, and the first tune in which we hear vocals from their saxophone player and all-around instrumental extraordinaire, Austin Harris. It’s a refreshing change, but doesn’t shy too far away from the overall tone of the EP. At its heart, it’s still a feel-good acoustic campfire jam.
With a selection of 6 solid tracks, it’s hard to imagine disliking this release, yet there is one inescapable issue I notice each time I give it a listen: bass. So much bass. With an acoustic release, most would expect the overall sound to feel a little lighter, yet it seems that in production they overcompensated by bumping up the lows across all instruments, resulting in a certain level of muddiness. This is prevalent throughout, making it difficult to look past odd balancing to hear and appreciate the songs for what they are: gentle, light-hearted, and genuine.
Overall Acoustics, Vol. 1 is a great listen. The use of acoustic instrumentation portrays the band in more of a raw light, accomplishing what most acoustic albums seek to achieve by telling the audience something along the lines of, “Here’s how the songs sounded when they were first written.” Cinders tends to keep their lyrics simple, making this album easy to listen to and easy to sing along to. At its heart, Acoustics, Vol. 1 makes the listener feel like Cinders is a close and familiar friend.