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  Shoes And Rider  
  Shoes And Rider  
  Dutch Courage  
Release Date:
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I wonder what "shoes and rider" means. It's a strange choice of words -- as if two terms were chosen and thrown together, and then an "&" was put in the middle to provide continuity. And yet, at the same time it has the look of meaning something. As if "shoes and rider" is a standard term in British Fox Hunting: "That horse lost both shoes and rider!" or something like that.

I dunno. I guess it's not really too important.

Now, even though the name seems kind of thrown together, the music that the band makes does not seem "thrown together" at all. It is precise and organic. Guitars, cello, mopey male/female vocals, synths, and drums all stew together to make a beautiful and vaguely melancholy mix. No element really dominates, and no element is really buried.

The choice of instruments is a little strange though. The cello really is the lead instrument on many tunes (certain movements on Reflecting Pools, Novelty, etc.). The guitar is subservient to it. Then there are the keyboards -- well, i guess that they are actually synthesizers. It's that sort of high-pitched sweeping sound i associate with the soundtracks to 70's sci-fi shows and to 70's prog rock songs. Then there is the drumming -- which is nice and powerful. If it were not for the drumming, the minor keys of the cello and the silliness of the synths would make this EP seem depressing. But with the strong drumming it merely seems reflectively melancholy.

This is the debut EP from Shoes And Rider. (Sometime soon i will review a real "album". Promise.) Let me describe the 5 songs for you.

The EP starts off with the lengthy Reflecting Pools. This song builds from tremoloed guitar drone to keyboard driven indie rock to a short vocal interlude to a long cello drone.

The next track, Novelty is a slow number dominated by powerful cello. This song also features the most vocals of any track on the EP. The cello playing really stands out here. Very nicely done.

Call And Response starts with those 70's synth drones and light guitarwork. Eventually the song builds until the cello joins the synths in carrying the melody.

Up next is Pendulum which has a real Hood feel to it. That is, the beat is insistent and the guitar plays a forceful and complex part. The cello and keys drone in the background behind the guitar arpeggios. The low-key vocals are muttered in the hollow spaces where the instrumentation downswells. Very like Hood. To this sort of sonic template Shoes And Rider add some really nice cello work. I like this song and think it is the real standout track on the EP. It flows really well and features the most interesting instrumentation.

Pendulum fades into Lead Me Where It Goes which ends to EP with an upswell of synths, cello, and guitar arpeggios. This is a slow song with positively sleepy vocals that sort of drag along. It's a nice end song -- it's sorrowful lyrics and the upswelling drums provide a real feeling of closure to the EP.

On the whole, i would say that this is a solid debut effort and the music all works quite well. I look forward to hearing more from this band, and hope that they keep up the good work.

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