Hello Echo – Coffee Cups EP

Hello Echo


Hello Echo, a Santa Monica, CA via Boston rock and roll trio, have followed up their 2011 debut album, Hello, with a three-song EP, titled Coffee Cups, that strikes all the right chords in myriad ways. Coffee Cups EP clocks in at 11:41, drops an H-bomb of a self-titled single, follows it up with a layered, loud gem full of jagged edges and left turns, and rounds out the brief set with a harmonica-driven, ruminative folk song.

The band (Sean Aylward on vocals/guitar, Mike Sarno on bass, Mike Silva on drums) formed a few years back after Aylward moved on from his tenure with Apollo Sunshine and set up camp in Southern California seeking to write and record solo material.  The three friends united and put out an accomplished debut with Hello, particularly capitalizing on the strength of “The Coming Days” and the utterly gorgeous “Disconnect Me.” Jeremy Black (drummer of Apollo Sunshine, Tea Leaf Green) produced Hello, and he returned to oversee production for the Coffee Cups EP.

The members of Hello Echo cite indie rock luminaries like Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and the Pixies as influences, and Hello made confident strides in the direction of those giants while also leaving distinct fingerprints. On Coffee Cups EP, the allegiances still exist, but Aylward, Sarno and Silva throw all strict outlines out the window and chart their own journey. “Coffee Cups,” “Country,” and “I Wore It Too” are vastly different songs (sometimes almost songs within songs – i.e. “Country”) with varying tempos and deliveries, but they are undeniably played by the same formidable rock and roll band.

The title track is simply a flawless three-minute rocker, and it’s without a doubt one of the ten best singles I’ve heard all year. The song is a dead ringer for the bastard child of “Last Nite” and “Lust for Life,” and its infectiousness is in the same league of those indispensable classics. “Coffee Cups” rides a fevered, jangling tempo, a guitar attack that sounds like Mike Campbell wedged in the middle of Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi as they play above, under and swirling all around each other’s notes, and dances all over your skull thanks to Aylward’s spot-on couplets that come rapid fire like manically Tweeted proverbs. It’s a rock and roll fury that comes on fast and riotous, signs a lease in your headspace and begs to be heard again seconds after burning out.

“Country” opens with an inspired guitar solo up against a snarling fat bassline. It’s the kind of intro that gets your head bobbing but maybe won’t floor you until deeper listens, when you know exactly what kind of adventurous rock and roll is ahead. When the chorus hits you the first time around and breathlessly drops straight into the second verse, you half-doubt if that really was the chorus because you’re already off and running again. After the second time around, virtuosic guitar and rhythmic ingenuity take center stage to lead into a third chorus, before chugging up the rollercoaster rails for the absolutely thrilling rock and roll showcase that is the climax of “Country.” For good measure, the conflagration of ripping guitar and rhythm stops on a dime and slides away in an entrancing lo-fi coda with shades of garage psychedelics.

“I Wore It Too” gently waltzes in on the shoulders of a harmonica, slide and acoustic guitar, and it unfolds as a charming, pastoral folk song that finds Aylward delivering pensive truths like “They don’t own me / Cuz here all we do is make more and more paper / I knew that back then and right now.” It’s a strong ballad that sounds far more reminiscent of Delta Spirit’s stellar Ode to Sunshine than it does Built to Spill, but Aylward makes it as winning as one of Matt Vasquez’s timeless ballads by channeling a comparable amount of heart.

All in all, Coffee Cups EP is a three-song home run that will either keep Hello Echo fully satisfied on what could have been an appetizer-sized portion until a sophomore album comes, or it will hopefully introduce a new crowd to a gifted band playing many shades of expert rock and roll. It achieves exactly what a worthwhile EP should: it makes you yearn for more.

Listen to Coffee Cups EP on Hello Echo’s Bandcamp.

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