I think the best thing about running a blog like Chicago Tunes is the steady stream of messages PR people and bands feed my email account on the regular. A lot of what you may read here comes from their tireless efforts to grab my attention and listen to their tunes.
Not everything grows out of an invite, but a good amount does.
This would be true of Honest Engines, a four-piece I hadn’t heard of before last Monday or so but a band that I’ll try and go see over their next few engagements in the city. I have Project Film‘s Megan Frestedt to thank for welcoming me into the Honest Engines fold. Consider me a fan, Megan!
Sure, their new EP, The French Song, is only three songs deep, but it’s a promising mix of chill jam that’s got me wondering what kind of ground they’d cover in a full length.
Too many times in the past week or so, I’ve caught myself mumbling “here’s to settling down… settling down… settling down” to no one in particular. The same is true of “always on the run and never ending up nowhere” — punchy lyrics from the titular track that for whatever reason have stuck with me.
A lot of it has to do with the catchiness (not a word, but stick with me here) of the Honest Engines sound. These tunes are repetitious and I think pretty simple, but in the instance of an EP, basic structures work in the favor of the band. For me, EP’s offer a brief glimpse into the band in question. So, may as well layer thickly the songs with hooks that stick. It’s about making an impression.
The three tracks comprising The French Song EP are, funnily enough, in descending order from super favorite to the least. I think “French Song” — freely streaming below — is the most accessible. It will probably be the one that finds a happy place in your brain and just sit there like it did me.
“El Jardin” — Spanish for garden — slows it down some, and has a likability about it entirely removed from “French Song.” It’s moodier and is driven by ghostly wails from the guys who do vocals.
Finally, “Sunny Setting Sun” is the fullest sound in the bunch and, by sound only, fits in the least to the rest of the EP. The driving drums promote traditional rock when the rest of the album is more indie. “Sunny Setting Sun” is far from a dud, but again, my least favorite of the release.
They sound nothing alike, but I’ve decided Honest Engine’s EP is about as good as California Wives’ 2010 EP, Affair. I loved the heck out of that thing late last summer, and included it in my top ten of the past year — just one of two EPs to make the list. You can probably expect The French Song EP to leave a similar impression in my next year-end list.
- Honest Engines, based in Chicago, is: Steve Mulacahy (vocals/guitar), Matt Hennessey (drums), Marcus Maloney (guitar) and Nick Gooden (bass).
- I can’t type out Honest Engines without first typing Honest Englines. I think my fingers are too used to pecking out “English.”
- Stream “French Song” above — the big orange play button! — or go here.