Shrouded in almost utter darkness except for a hint of blue lighting, Writer (bother’s Andy and James Ralph) tore into “Miss Mermaid”, a song seemingly about a man drowning and whose only salvation is a mermaid. Appropriately it washes over you full force. Andy’s electric guitar was effected up as was his vocals and James skillfully handled the drums and a small synth that droned out powerful bass tones with undertones that I could only describe as a cross between the low hum of a pulsing laser and an air raid siren. This is to say, they produced a chunky sound for a band of two while creating music that at it’s core is earthy roots - meets indie - meets southern rock music.
The use of a healthy dose of reverb on vocals is nothing new and with the advent of noise pop bands it is gaining popularity. It can also get old. Thankfully it fit the sound scape that the brothers Ralph were creating. Their songs are full of sustained melodies that hit emotional chords. Coupled with the dramatic downbeats and double time beats their songs evoke travel, movement, tumble weeds and those among us who have not set down roots. Some of the songs made me think of suped up Wilco or even Fleetwood Mac. Mid way through their set, Andy switched from guitar to dirty synth keys and they created a jammy prog rock song this side of The Royal Bangs. A departure that surprised me. Another nice departure was seeing James come from behind the drum kid to share a mic with his brother on one of the more quiet and tender songs.
Writer’s sound is wistful and vast. I look forward to discovering more about their music. One thing that must be said about their Echo performance is that the lighting guy did them no favors. For the entire set they were mostly in the dark except for a shade of blue that caught the drum kit. Mood lighting is a wonderful thing but when a band like Writer is bearing their collective soul onstage it would be nice to see the emotion on their faces.