Ephmahs – The Cost of Living (CD)

While the recording on “The Cost of Living” isn’t the most clear I’ve ever heard, the pseudo-grunge feel of the Ephmahs actually gains a little strength from the constant compression offered by the mix of the disc. Rolling strong for about a decade, the band is a cohesive unit that decides on a target and proceeds to attack it, rather than letting each of their members do their own thing and muck up the disc any more than it is already due to the shaky recording. Coming back often to the grunge influence, Ephmahs do it in such a way that it immediately does not rehash the excesses of the movement – gone are all the overblown post-grunge bands destroying the name like Bush, and restored to the former glory are Tad and Nirvana, due to Ephmahs’ looking back. There are times on “The Cost of Living” where the recording becomes pretty rough, but by these times, individuals are already enthralled by the rich arrangement and increasing power of the Ephmahs’ guitars and vocals (Tim and Matt’s doing).

The impressive thing about Ephmahs is the ability to shine through the recording issues with “The Cost of Living” and create tracks that would fit alongside Green River, the aforementioned Nirvana, and even someone lighter like Matthew Sweet. Early on during “The Cost of Living”, with their “Stargazer Lily” Ephmahs really recall a direct line of influence from Minneapolis to Seattle, recalling The Replacements, Husker Du, and “Polly”-era Nirvana. Even going farther back into the rich history of rock, a set of bongos and a psychedelic-guitar noodling through “The World Is Your Couch” recalls individuals of another band, this time British that was heavily influenced by The Who, Radiohead (the similarities to Paranoid Android are uncanny!).

With energy to spare, each track on “The Cost of Living” is straight-forward and hard rocking. Even the slower Tesla-like “Care” benefits from receptive drums and screeching guitar solos. Never in a rut during the entire timeframe of “The Cost of Living”, Ephmahs show that a rock band can both be successful and original, hopefully sending out the message to any individuals that being famous doesn’t necessarily mean following the well-worn path of Earshot, Tool, and all the other hack bands that populate the airwaves of Clearchannel radio. The band has no discernible weaknesses, and as soon as they get into a decent studio to record a full-length, I am sure that that album will be on my player continually.

Top Track: Stargazer Lily

Rating: 6.6/10

Ephmahs – The Cost of Living / 2004 Self-Released / 7 Tracks / http://www.ephmahs.com / ephmahs@optonline.net / Reviewed 15 August 2004

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