Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Renminbi-The Great Leap EP

November 28, 2004

renminbiBand Name: Renminbi
Album Name: The Great Leap EP
Best element: Consistent sound.
Genre: Indie-rock with math leanings.
Website: http://www.reminbinyc.com
Label name: N/a
Band e-mail: beancurd5@yahoo.com

Renminbi’s “The Great Leap” EP is an interesting little character. It falls a bit on the quirky side of music, but it’s not dismissible as pure Modest Mouse-ian self-indulgence because of the poppy element still retained in it. It walks a really fine line though- a very fine line.

The majority of this seventeen minute EP is instrumental- two songs feature a substantial amount of vocals in them (a third, “Under Hudson”, uses them basically as color), but neither instances of vocals are worth writing home about. They’re pretty cool, but overall not as cool as the guitars. The guitars clang in a very math rock mentality, playing angular patterns and forms over strong a strong backdrop of bass and drums. It’s not completely math oriented though, because they still incorporate melody into some of the songs. In these songs, the focus is off the math-based guitars and on the chunky, post-Ramones block chords that stomp through their music. This combination of chord stomp and angular note riffs forms the band Renminbi- they don’t often stray from that pattern.

After multiple listens, this starts to feel like backdrop music more than a statement in itself- the highly cohesive sound and the lack of extra instruments just do a number on them. Even they do the most they can as a nearly vocal-less three-piece, they still can be out-ornamented by another band holding more musicians in it- because when you don’t have vocals to fall back on, it’s simply a matter of “How cool can we make the music?” And the coolest instrumental three-piece in the world is going to hard-pressed to beat the coolest four-piece, five-piece, or even six-piece instrumental band.

To their credit, they’d be really cool live band, because the raw production style sounds as if it would transfer to live shows very well.

Renminbi has definitely established their sound with this EP- now they need to grow on it, whether in new instrumental directions, more vocal tracks, or more instrumentalists. It just can’t take the beating of repeated listens.

-Stephen Carradini

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

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