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Folk band doesn’t disappoint with new EP

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 01:02

Folk music is an oddly undefinable genre.

But a new album from The Act of Estimating as Worthless released Tuesday may just fit the word perfectly.

When people of this generation hear “folk,” many think Mumford and Sons or Noah and the Whale. Ask your mom and she might respond with Bob Dylan or Neil Young, but when analyzing these artists side by side very few things about them are similar.

Some argue Mumford’s sound is more pop-influenced and Bob Dylan’s music was just a product of the turbulent times of his generation. This is also the beauty of the genre. Its merit is left almost completely up to interpretation.

The Act of Estimating as Worthless, a Brooklyn-based acoustic folk outfit released its first album, “Amongst These Splintered Minds,” last year to minor critical acclaim.

As far as debut albums go, it was a triumph in instrumentation and atmosphere.

Once listeners pick up their dropped jaws from the outrageously long title of the band, the clear-cut quality shines.

The lyrics were fantastic and spanning, but juxtaposed with languid, sleepy vocals that gave an added emphasis to the eeriness of the tracks. The only negative was the obvious production comparisons to the band Neutral Milk Hotel.

The group’s second EP, “Circadian Tremors” was released Tuesday, and at only six tracks long, the album manages to achieve the same melancholy, emotional depth that its
12-track predecessor did in a more compact and subdued way.

It seems the group is starting to take possession of its own style and sound. The fat has been trimmed, and the six tracks deliver the goods without the filler.

Some standouts include the title track “Circadian Tremors,” which opens on a quiet and austere note and takes a completely different turn a little more than a minute into the song, as it incorporates soaring horn accompaniment and heartbreaking strings.

Though the group’s songs move at their own pace as a principal, the slower tempo doesn’t leave the listener impatiently tapping his or her foot; rather it seeps into the ears and
commands attention.

Track 5, “Popolopen,” is more upbeat and spirited than most on the album. It features sweeping horn movements and a lively tempo This track was fun to listen to, if you can make out what is being said.

But the quality of production seems to have plummeted with the group’s second album. Perhaps this was a style choice, but the vocals are garbled and hard to hear as instrumentation is added and the vocal choices seemed more about talking quietly and less about singing. Other than those disappointing observations this EP is a really pleasant follow-up.

A free download of the EP can be found at theactofestimatingasworthless.bandcamp.com.    
 

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