Elenora - Avant-Garde EP
Record Label: Persistent Heart Media/Self-Released
Release Date: August 10, 2012
For starters, I'd just like to emphasize how frustrated I am that it took me six months to find this band and album. Elenora, a six-piece progressive outfit from Oregon, had already made it pretty obvious that they were gonna waste no time breaking through the scene with their first release, and their latest effort Avant-Garde only reinforces that sentiment. Running just under 20 minutes, this 5-song cut brings the best elements of the post-hardcore, alternative, and progressive genres together into one cohesive product that is sure to shake the foundations of those genres and fast.
Right away, I was taken aback by the sheer energy of the opening track, "Bedfellow." The vocals immediately captured my attention. Alexander Prescott's tone is defined and smooth, making him easy to listen to. On top of that, his range is impeccable, and his voice itself sounds a lot like Anthony Green's, among others. But as if that's not enough, the guitars also blew me away right out of the gate. The ambient guitar parts and melodies add the post-rock/post-hardcore feel to the music, and the rhythm guitar consistently pushes the song forward, giving it motion. The album is also sprinkled sporadically with tight breakdowns, a secret weapon of theirs they only break out when necessary, unlike other bands in their genre. Each one left me wanting more, only to have them throw me back into one of their soaring choruses or quiet bridges.
The band's musicianship as a whole never fails to shine through, either. The entire time, I couldn't help but think that the album was so specifically thought-out and crafted because of the little nuances they throw at the listener. Whether it be the 7s and 9s they use in their chords or the modal shift in a vocal melody, they sure managed to keep my theory-junkie side entertained the whole time. Another aspect that caught my attention almost immediately was Justin Arp's drumming. His work ranges from the complimentary backbeat to fast and furious flourishes that made the music sound almost frantic (see "Lost in the Sea" for that). Also contrary to other post-hardcore bands, Elenora's use of piano is nothing but tasteful. Victor Prescott throws his In Fear and Faith-reminiscent key-work in sporadically, as well, be it a subtle keyboard countermelody during a chorus or synth strings during one of their breakdowns (see "Rome is Where the Art Is," certainly a standout track). I could go on and on about their musicality, but there's simply no need; their music speaks for itself.
The only thing that didn't quite stand out to me was their production, which neither adds nor detracts from the album itself. I feel like it captured the band's sound and did nothing more, which is nothing to get upset over. I could go into further detail about the tracks themselves, but I feel like the album deserves a listen to of its own. These guys are clearly not going anywhere but up, and it's only a matter of time until they get picked up by a label and finally get that push they need to get over the top.
Bottom line: excellent record.