Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Derby Lane-The Vs. Narrative EP

March 1, 2005

derbylaneBand Name: Derby Lane
Album Name: The Vs. Narrative EP
Best element: “Bridgeport in Summer”
Genre: Pop/rock/pop-punk
Website: www.derbylaneonline.com
Label name: N/a

Band e-mail: booking@derbylaneonline.com

Some people genuinely like the taste of Vanilla. Some people like to paint their walls industrial beige. Some people like to drive black Honda Civics. Some people even like to watch re-runs. I am not one of those people- I like to be different, I like to be stimulated, I like it unique.

I say this because Derby Lane is decidedly vanilla in their The Vs. Narrative EP. There’s nothing wrong with them at all- this will appeal to some people, and even make some people very very happy. It’s just that I don’t see anything in it that’s unique. Their songwriting hooks are all very adequate, but their pop-rock/pop-punk song structures don’t do much besides glorify the hook. This results in songs that drone on with seemingly no point- a terrible fate for any listener. Once the hook hits, the listener is reminded why the song was written in the first place, but when an entire 4 minutes hangs on the repetition of a guitar line or two, there’s a problem.

But it’s not always the guitars distilling nuggets of goodness- sometimes the vocalist delivers the hook in his high-pitched tone that’s never nasal but still grating after a while, such as in “Attalia”. His vocals aren’t that bad- it’s just that they’re not stellar, and after being pushed way up to the front, drowning out some of the music in the process, they just having nothing at all to hide behind. This exposes every little flaw and intonation the singer makes, and ultimately hurts the band.

But it’s not all dim prospects for Derby Lane. The dynamic shifts and melancholy air of “Bridgeport in Summer” actually let Derby Lane’s strength in songwriting sing out in a way the other four songs couldn’t, as “Bridgeport in Summer” possesses a beautiful, mellow clarity, good instrumental interactions, and unique ideas. It’s only one fifth of this EP, but hey- it’s a start.

If you like pop-rock/punk that’s on the radio right now, get this EP. You’ll love it. If you like a little more depth in your music, I’d pass on this one for now. Derby Lane does peek their head above water with “Bridgeport in Summer”, but most of this EP is submerged in the shallows of our musical era.

-Stephen Carradini

Independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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