Review Summary: Carefree, catchy and just plain perfect.
High and Driving's self-titled EP is a one of a kind record and, in my eyes, flawless. It's only right that I should justify my very high opinion of it. The duo consisted of Anthony Green on all instruments except drums which were played by Tim Arnold (Days Away, Good Old War) who also lent a hand or two on Avalon, Green's solo debut. Unfortunately, only one High and Driving show was played before Green left Philadelphia for California to join Saosin.
The first thing one might notice upon playing the first track, Baby Girl, is the clean tone of the electric guitars which engender a more indie vibe than Green's more famous projects. The guitars also sport more jazzy flavors than can be heard in a lot of Green’s other work, with some contrapuntal harmonies thrown in, though not haphazardly. A synth is also immediately audible in the mix, playing a cute, reedy motif which brings to mind the sound of a whizzing balloon with the air let loose. Baby Girl is the most jubilant track on quite an upbeat record overall and every element of it works to convey the joyous adulation in Green's lyrics.
That brings us on to his voice which is perfect in this EP. It's just as furious as it was in the early days where a young Green shouted the melodies and this produces a more natural sound compared to the squeakier tones he emits these days. If you're unfamiliar with Anthony Green, he has a distinctive high-pitched, youthful voice. These four tracks capture almost all the great aspects of his singing - the grittiness, the tenderness, and some of his lower singing in Plays Ugly for Daddy (a rework of a Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer tune). Speaking of Plays Ugly for Daddy, it's a great way to end the record - slow and soft, creating a reflectiveness and conclusiveness that leaves you feeling serene but moved. Green makes good use of multiple vocal tracks as he did with Saosin. These can be heard most in The Fishermen Will Be Bewildered where in one section they peak and trough together in a pleasant wave-like motion.
A very strong feeling which comes across in this EP is the looseness with which the parts are executed – a perfect example being a quarter-way through The Fishermen Will Be Bewildered. The vocals and guitars often interweave little melodies which really add to the harmonic and rhythmic content of the music and leave extra things to enjoy on repeated listens. Fortunately, the bass is also clearly audible and plays parts very distinct from the guitars. The drumming comes across as heavily improvisational but somehow Tim Arnold creates an ingenious cohesiveness as well as conveying the highs and lows of the individual sections of each song. While there are often multiple things going on at once in these songs, they seem remarkably simple.
No one could accuse this EP of being overproduced. The rawness of the recording is refreshing and organic which accentuates the free and youthful atmospheres prevalent on the record. So, if you haven't heard this and like fun indie music (or not), I strongly recommend it. I can't fault it in any way besides being too short at approximately 10 minutes.