The indie edge that Nine Black Alps bring to the retro-rock movement of bands like The Hives and The Strokes is refreshing, and the high-energy of “Cosmopolitan” shows a band that can use the typical punk arrangements to provoke a more thought-out track. The jangly guitars present on “Over the Ocean” mix well with the vocals of Sam, to make for a track that is as equally influenced by U2 and Talking Heads as it is with The Ramones and Green Day.
Each of the tracks on this EP feels admirably suited for pop radio, as the music has been produced by some of the more capable individuals. Of particular note is “Shot Down”, a track that finds its place as a sort of middle ground between the harder edge of “Cosmopolitan” and the lighter sound of “Over the Ocean”. In a sense, “Shot Down” takes a lot of its sound from Queens of the Stone Age, infusing the very contemporary sound of the band with some of the biggest bands of the sixties, with a dollop of psychedelia (especially present during the guitar solo on the track). Even if all the signs point to a more Americanized band in Nine Black Alps, one cannot understate the importance of Oasis (and Radiohead, in terms of the guitars that open up this track) in influencing the band during “Llama Song”, in which Sam’s vocals seem to even take up the Gallagher’s cause.
Taking a distinctly different tack for “Attraction”, where the guitars are unplugged for an acoustic accompaniment, Nine Black Alps more than satisfactorily end the disc and set themselves up for their upcoming LP. With a minor amount of alt-country mixed in (with the slide effects on the guitar) during “Attraction”, Nine Black Alps show that their influences range far beyond any one given genre. The music on this EP stands up well to repeat listenings, and while the tracks are not tremendously experimental, the safe bets that Nine Black Alps make seem to give credence to the fact that their upcoming LP will be able to succeed. Perfectly primed for radio play, as well as having some artistic input, Nine Black Alps is a perfect example of a band that simultaneously will wow the music critics and the average pop-station listener. Pick up this EP – it is no doubt one of the many steps that the band will make to greater amounts of perfection.
Top Track: Attraction
Nine Black Alps – S/T / 2005 Tiny Evil / 5 Tracks / http://www.nineblackalps.net / http://www.myspace.com/nineblackalps / Reviewed 11 July 2005