Indie rock fans don’t need to be told about the deficit in mainstream talent that their favorite genre has been experiencing lately – if you turn on the radio, you’re going to notice. From one end of the rock n’ roll lexicon to the next, it often feels like some of the best artists in the game have faded into obscurity and left no real heirs to pick up where they left off – that’s where Unlettered come in.
Don’t get me wrong, now; Mike Knowlton and his group aren’t some sort of bar band cover act trying to relive the seventies with their riffs, and their new extended play New Egypt proves as much. New Egypt sees them experimenting with the basics of abrasive noise rock music while openly flirting with a new era-rock sound that could have a lot of potential if exploited with some electrified grooves as catalyzing weapons. Bucking mainstream interests and revisiting the foundational glories that made noise rock so sexy to begin with, this band finds a home for themselves in the underground without having to borrow some space from any of their contemporaries – indie, mainstream, or otherwise.
The EQ on the guitar parts in “Group of Compliers” gives the riffing a raw finish, and much like it is in “Too Good to be True,” this is what helps to solidify the menacing vibe of the melodies without having to take anything away from the optimism of the lyrically-centric harmony up top. The mix is stacked to produce a layered feel, and even though texture isn’t as important to Unlettered as tonality is, there are still plenty of other aesthetically-pleasing equilibriums here to be enjoyed by the more serious audiophiles among us.
My only real complaint with New Egypt lies with the running time – it’s a short-running firecracker that, in my opinion, gets our engines revving only to leave us aching for more of the magic as the grizzled strings fade into the darkness after “Sin Sip.” “D>B>H” and “Malfroid Archives” are throttling, hook-powered numbers that could have benefited from a little material support in the tracklist, but then again, this EP was primarily designed as a teaser for what’s probably coming down the pipes a lot sooner than later from this band.
APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/us/album/new-egypt-ep/1684210184
To say that there aren’t many rock bands trying to keep things as purely fun and carefree as Unlettered is in New Egypt anymore might be too grand an understatement for me to make in this review, but even if the market were oversaturated with competition, there’s a charm here that makes every second of audio stand out in my book. New Egypt has a few different areas of unfiltered grit that could prove problematic for a less-than-erudite group of artists, but in this band’s hands, I think they’re going to put it to good use in their future writing sessions. They’ve got the volume and the creative consistency to go far, and their formula has already won them a new fan in this critic.