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Album Review: Brief Candles Newhouse EP
The five-track EP makes an effective pitch.

If the EP is the elevator pitch of music formats, Brief Candles makes an impressive case for itself on the relentless Newhouse EP, which pulls no punches even as it zips through five tracks of swirling guitar and white-knuckle drumming that are at once dream-like and bruising. The band still sounds beamed-in from the ’90s, with an obvious affinity for the warped guitars and dense layering of My Bloody Valentine, but plays with so much rock 'n' roll bombast that it's impossible to confuse the two.


The album begins in the midst of a racing drum pattern (on "Olympic Sleeper," a great title for a song that is so athletically dreamy) and doesn't lets up from there. The bass drops in, then is suddenly enveloped in an updraft of rippling guitars, only to return to solid ground later for a surging stomp of a coda. Second track "While I'm Awake" is the EP's most subdued, but most dense, with a busy drum/bass pattern buoying layers of festering guitar and Kevin Dixon's faraway voice. "Dawn Bomb Parties" – yet another track galvanized by an explosive drum part – is the most obvious nod to My Bloody Valentine, a vacuum of deranged guitar tones and Jen Boniger's sweet but detached vocals. Of the five tracks, the penultimate "Terry Nation" is the most spectacular. The rhythm section locks in and stretches out for a Kraut-y midsection that culminates in a payoff of beastly drum fills and squealing guitar noise. The EP is generally tumultuous, but closer "Newhouse" (named after a friend of the band's who passed away last fall) sounds unusually at peace, ditching the stormy guitars for clean, bright ones.


Even though its five tracks clock in at only 20 minutes, Newhouse's many layers make it feel longer and deeper than it is. It's an effective pitch – short and sweet, but possessing unseen depth – the kind that makes you want to follow Brief Candles off the elevator to hear more.

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