Deep Sea Recovery Efforts
I want to share the track listing so you can easily refer back to it when reading through this page. I really do not know if this is the order that it is supposed to be in, but this is what we have and this is how it has been presented to us. Also, if you haven't already, go listen to the EP before you venture forth.
- The Newton Creek Song
- The Unbeliever
- Strange [By Galaxie 500]
- A Slightly Bigger Space
- Tiger Tiger (The Angie Song)
- Lords of Cobble Hill
- A Very Troubled Day
When it comes to the musical aspect of this EP, I always felt that all the songs worked together. Perhaps it feels this way to me because I am used to this track listing that I just never thought of a way that it could be different. Also, I am not a music person so I lack the knowledge when it comes to being able to talk about the specifics, but I will try my best to explain what I hear from the perspective of a regular music enjoyer. I think of "Projecting," "The Unbeliever," and "Leviticus" as sister songs. Those three really work together and all have that very fuzzy guitar tone. "The Newton Creek Song" also has that fuzzy guitar tone, but it isn't loud like the other ones. For that song, I really enjoy the climbing part in the second half. I like to whistle and hum along with that whenever I listen to it. "Tiger Tiger" is probably one that feels like an outlier perhaps because of the space noise solo. On most of his songs he likes to have these programmed noises that lie within the underbelly of the song so this part of the song isn't surprising, it's just very prominent which is something that he hadn't done before except possibly with the song before this one, "A Slightly Bigger Space," despite them being quite different from each other. Personally I wouldn't count it. I really love this drums on "Tiger Tiger." It is my favorite off of the EP and I always imagine this song to be one of those songs that bands would love to elongate and have an everchanging improvised mixture within a live show especially during that space noise part. You could really keep going with those programmed noises and those drums together. Those programmed parts within each song is one of those things that really ties the whole EP together for me.
One thing that I noticed is that there is a lack of really quiet songs on this EP. I would categorize "Strange," "A Slightly Bigger Space," and "Lords of Cobble Hill" as being the quieter songs. They still aren't quiet like ">1," "Stick Around," and "A Reason" from Songs For Dustmites, but they're just the EP equivalent to those. "Strange" is such a great cover and I truly commend Burns for making his covers unique and his own instead of trying to recreate it the exact same way that it sounds especially with his cover of "Dead" by They Might Be Giants. I really love the addition of the female backing vocals within this cover, he should have had her (I assume it's Mary Fridmann) on more of his songs. I always love female backing vocals and I advocate for more female backing vocals within rock songs. There is cello on a few of these songs and possibly some other strings which is nice to hear because I really liked the strings on Songs For Dustmites. I also enjoyed the inclusion of an instrumental song on here. Songs For Dustmites did have an instrumental song with "Music For Montgomery County, PA," but that song is a lot different than "A Very Troubled Day." I know there are vocals within this song which could mean that it truly is not instrumental, but I view this as an instrumental song with the way that the vocals are used. The voice is an instrument no matter what others may say and there are different ways it can be used. The vocals within this song lack any actual words and it blends in with the other instruments so, to me, this song is completely instrumental. I think instrumental songs are always great to have as an album opener or closer and I do enjoy an album even more when one is added. I think they can show off the song writing skills that a band has since there aren't any words to rely on to keep the song going.
I do wonder what parts of this EP isn't cohesive enough for him, which song or songs would he feel doesn't fit. Another thing that he said about the EP was that it sounded a little vanilla for him and too polished. I don't think I can agree with him on them being vanilla unless someone can point out to me which parts of these songs feel too safe and could have been expanded upon better. I think these songs are pretty rocking and I do think they fit well within his canon. If I had to choose which song I think would be the boring song on the EP then I would choose "Lords of Cobble Hill" for that. I am wincing as I type this. I wouldn't truly say that it is boring or vanilla, but it just keeps going. I am not one to complain about the length of a song, though. I like that Burns isn't afraid to go over three minutes and I think he uses his time quite wisely. You never notice that most of these reach four minutes. I also can't say anything about them being too polished because what we have of these songs are lower quality mp3s so I can't truly compare the production of them to Songs For Dustmites when I am unable to hear it. I also do not know what to look for when someone says a song is too polished or over produced.
One thing that I do want to say about Burns' music in general is that I love how the vocals are mixed in. With a lot of rock music, especially within punk and metal, I feel that the vocals are way too high up in the mix and really should not be that way. The instruments get muffled and so quiet while the vocals become the only thing that can be heard well. It's rock music, why can I not hear the guitar solo? I saw this complaint with a few Amazon reviews for the initial release of Songs For Dustmites where people were wanting to hear his vocals more, but a lot of those reviewers were saying that they usually don't listen to this type of music so they aren't ones that I would personally take any criticism from.
Last thing that he said was Songs For Dustmites sounds more like The Flaming Lips which is something I would agree with him on, but only in regards to how The Flaming Lips sounded within that era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Burns is one of the rare musicians out there who is willing to compare himself to other bands and to his influences and really REALLY wants to sound like them. Bands usually hate it when you lump them in with other bands. I am not much of a fan of The Flaming Lips, but I do understand why a lot of people love them and how they've cultivated this big following. Since Songs For Dustmites was recorded within the tail end of the recording sessions for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and there are obvious influences from that within Burns' album, would you argue the way that Deep Sea Recovery Efforts ended up had to do with the way that At War with the Mystics was made? This is just something to think about. Burns also said that Songs For Dustmites felt more like the impulse that he had while writing the songs and with the newer stuff it was lost in the production process. I would love to hear him expand upon this more. That was the most interesting statement that he made and I wish he could have kept going.