A band being melodious, and using melodic chord changes, is one thing. But the true musical depth is found in a band's dynamics. The dynamics (climaxes and crescendos), are a subject that can be pushed alongside melodies and even chaos to create more than technicality, but a true manifestation of the music's emotions.
Ethel Meserve do an excellent job at this blurb. They manage to create a extremely melodic, yet powerful, and evidently powerful musical force on this six song Ep.
In order to accomplish this, the band uses a little more than the usual array of instrumentation (guitar, bass, and drums), and is accompanied by a cello on several tracks, including the first track, West Deactur. At times, the cellos seems to be used simply to make a textural mood. But during a extremely soulful breakdown, the cello adds another dimension to the riff the guitar is churning out. When the cello takes center stage, it can prove to be a very emotional tool, such as the closing of Windom Earle, where the cello belts out a soulful and tragic sounding piece effectively ending the song. An acoustic guitar can also be heard strumming away on tracks, which equally gives the band another dimension, while at the same time adding a mood, something the moody cello does not.
The guitar playing is not the normal indie-emo fare. It relies on mid to high tempo riffs that are not incredibly tight, but hold together easier than fellow than other bands at the time such as Cap'n Jazz. The two guitars play the same riffs, but often at different times, tempos volumes, and textures to create a tight but still somewhat complex sound. The bass easily follows the guitar work adding yet another dimension that is not heard as much, but along with the tight drums, keeps the music at it's tempos, with the guitars each differing their own tempo at times.
Despite the emotional dynamics, the recording still keeps an muddy vibe. What adds to that sound is the poetic, and often wise lyrics. "Hands can make the biggest mistakes when made with trust " is a excellent line in the faster-paced "Tacoma Narrows". Windom Earle starts off with a drum line and vocal pare before sinking into low-key lyrics and quite clean vocals;"it's raining again it's strange here it falls with a passion where most have none." One of the lyrical gems is the mournful Ina. Ina is not necessarily marked by poetic lyrical blah blah, but by it's tell all story of a beat-down father who neglects his son, lives his life killing himself, and "was lucky to have died". The emotional factor is shown off evidently with the fact that the writer would be so prolific in such a personal case, instead of heavy metaphorical verse.
The final track East Coker, is the best manifestation of their sound. It starts off, moody, with a Cello and Acoustic guitar part. Soon, an electric guitar part arrives in, quietly followed by a bass line and light percussion. Before long the cello leaves the sound and the vocals set in, creating a perfect mood for climax. The guitars soon erupt into melodic riffs wit the drums beating sullenly, but confidently. The vocalists are confident sounding but utter lyrics like "but far from home when living miles away/you know you're alone", to show the somewhat sad vibe. The Acoustic guitar gives the electric parts a push to create an earthy vibe, while the dueling electric guitar sink in together, and use a call and response system; when one guitar leaves, the other jumps in. The riffs on the track are the most organic on the album, that might be helped by the acoustic guitar backing. The song ends duefully with a long, yet quiet line of distortion, and a short yet loud cello arrangement.
What I seem to like about Ethel Mesere and the Milton Abandonment Ep, is how they use different factors to create a certain sound, and come off owing debt to the original sound, but making it better, and even more technical, while still presenting the music's emotion.