Echo Courts - Room With a View

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2018-07-13
Echo Courts - Room With a View
Echo Courts - Room With a View

If back in the late 1960’s, the pre-sandbox version of Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys had formed a union with psych-rock pioneers The Byrds, chances are pretty good that the offspring of that get together would have ended up sounding something like Echo Courts. The North Carolina based group’s second LP ”Room With A View” will be released on Refresh Records on July 13th, and is a ten track compilation of aural delights that should please all fans of classic, well executed rock.

The group recently went through a downsizing that resulted in the former six-piece ensemble being reduced to a quartet. This shrinking-by-a-third of the band personnel has in no way hampered the full, melodic sound that was in evidence on their first offering, 2016’s “In The Garden”. Band founder Kelly Fahey and Jean-Luc Swift form a powerhouse duo that shares duties for songwriting, guitar leads, keyboards and vocals. They are both fully capable of handling any or all of these duties on several of the tracks, and bass player Nate Goldsmith combines with Nick Parascandola on drums to form the steady foundation of a sonic delight.

The fresh compilation opens with “I Don’t Mind”, which serves as a perfect introductory piece to invite the listener to sample the band’s wares. The opening chords create a vision in the mind of a dark club, with a large stage curtain being slowly pulled back to unveil a four-piece troupe of entertainers that will transform the evening. The song contains minimal lyrical content and then launches into an impressive second half  instrumental that gives each member a chance to shine. It’s easy to tell that this piece opens the album as an incitement of what lies ahead.

Since Echo Courts employ two different lead vocalists and lead guitar maestros, the personality of the songs tends to vary depending on who is singing and playing what. Fahey has a strong, rollicking vocal style that is fun and energetic, while the tunes voiced by Swift take on a hint of a country-rock vibe. Swift’s voice has a bit of a Dylan-esque twang that is soothing on the ears and mind.

Fahey’s voice is on full display on the album’s title track, which is unusual due to the fact that it also the shortest cut on the disc at a compact 2:45. The power guitar chords combine with a throbbing drums and bass backbone to give the track a powerful, but not overbearing intonation.

A personal favorite is “Tail Lights”. This four-minute delight starts with a psychedelic presage that induces thoughts of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”  or even “Dear Prudence”.  The envisioned multi-colored swirling rainbows are quickly and unexpectedly eclipsed by the heavenly slide guitar work of Swift. The mood and sound of the song is flipped 180 degrees instantly to a pleasing, almost west coast country rock sound that is the best sort of ear candy.  The combination of the two dissimilar genres is masterfully amalgamated and presented.  It is lyrically one of the stronger cuts as well, with Swift giving us his take on hell, among other things, in a straightforward, coherent manner.

Like the opening track, the final cut on the disc, “The One You’re Dreaming Of”, is strategically placed to leave the listener wanting more. The song has a tropical feel, highlighted by the most prominent keyboard and drum work displayed on the album. It is hard not to listen to the song without envisioning swaying palm trees and sand between your toes.

In addition to his numerous duties with the band, Mr. Swift also did a top-shelf job of recording and producing the collection.

Is there a place in today’s musical landscape for a band that creates classic sounding, well-crafted tunes that are highlighted by highly polished musicianship, strong lyrics and solid vocals? I certainly hope so. And if so, Echo Courts should have greater days ahead. If you are planning a backyard celebration sometime this summer and put “Room With A View” on as a background soundtrack, be prepared to be asked very frequently what it is that is playing. The catchy and crafted sound is infectious and not easily ignored.

 

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