Koji - Some Small Way EP Release Date: November 9, 2010
Record Label: Run For Cover Records
Not many people know about Koji yet, but they will soon. They'll have no choice but to know about him. With his easy-to-listen-to brand of post punk/indie, Andrew "Koji" Shiraki has crafted one of the best EPs of the year. Some Small Way is Koji's second release for Run for Cover Records, which has entrenched itself as a powerhouse of a label in 2010.
Most of the five songs on Some Small Way have been heard by Koji fans by now, either on his Spring Songs EP or at live shows. The opening track, "Eating Lemons", was on that Spring Songs EP, but hearing the studio version should be a priority for Koji fans. His voice sounds phenomenal in the studio, exemplifying shades of some of the best indie rock vocalists of recent memory while remaining unique and unheard. As Koji belts out, "You can't go on like this way forever / You just say, 'Hey man, that's just whatever' / For all of your life," listeners will find it impossible to not sing along after a few listens.
While the first track feels more indie-ish, "Waking Up" definitely has some rougher edges, focusing on some effects on Koji's voice and a determined guitar riff. Sounding desperate and pleading at times, Koji manages to convey an extreme amount of emotion in his vocals, something that more experienced singers should envy. On "Stay", a more laid-back soundscape sets the stage for Koji's chilling delivery of "You know, you know who you are." Later in the song, the instrumentals pick things up as Koji's band helps him deliver an incredibly tight studio performance. While that track proves to be the standout of the EP, there is no song worth skipping on this five-song beast of a release.
"Windows", a live track, might showcase Koji's vocals better than any of the other songs. He is clearly comfortable in close, intimate settings, as his voice feels more natural here than on any other track. To describe the vocals, imagine if A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar-era Chris Carrabba approached a Sound the Alarm-era Chris Conley, then turned up the bass on Conley's voice and introduced him to Kevin Devine. Meanwhile, Koji's voice has this raspy-ness to it that makes it nothing like what I just described, but way more awesome and very much his own.
The final track, "Color Quiet Loud", isn't really any different than the rest of the EP but perhaps takes on a more straightforward rocking tone. The bridge is the climax, and the song sends the EP out on a great note.
To say that I am anticipating a Koji full length would be an understatement. He has to his name an onslaught of EPs and splits, including an extremely entertaining split with Into It. Over It. that came out in November along with this EP. Koji is the kind of singer/songwriter that should gain a lot of popularity on this website, with the kind of music fans we have here. And soon that demographic will have no choice but to know who he is.
i like this ep, but i like spring song vol. 1 a ton more. i think he sounds so much better acoustic and when his voice is more raw than in the studio with a full band. nevertheless this guy is one of my favorite artists right now