Monday, March 15, 2010

Album Review: Annuals - Sweet Sister EP

With their latest EP, Sweet Sister, Annuals has given us a sampler of varied pop soundscapes they can create. While all five tracks are markedly different, they all share the same tight production and smooth vibe.

The EP starts strong with “Loxstep,” a high energy mix of Latin and island rhythms. Every second of the track is filled with multiple instruments: guitars, drums, synths and even vibraslap. In the hands of a lesser producer it would be a mess, but the production of frontman Adam Baker fits everything together perfectly.

The percussion really stands out on this album. “Sweet Sister” features some stellar work on both trap set and on the congas. What's really impressive is how well they transition between styles.

The last two tracks, “Holler and Howl” and the Johnny Cash cover “Flesh and Blood,” have a more roots-influenced sound. They sound a little silly compared to the rest of the album, but they're well done and fun. I particularly like the orchestral approach to “Flesh and Blood.”

Sweet Sister is exactly what an EP should be: adventurous, eclectic and fun. This was a chance for Annuals to try some new things without the pressures of recording an full-length album or the tinkering of a major label (it's on indie label Banter Records and was recorded in Raleigh) and they've succeeded in creating an EP that's a very enjoyable listen.

Sweet Sister will be released on March 30. Annuals will play at Duke Gardens as part of the "Music in the Gardens" series on Wednesday, May 26.

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