Saturday, June 6, 2015

The End Men

Earlier this spring, Couch By Couchwest stalwarts The End Men (web | Twitter) released their new album Terms and Conditions.
Historically, the core of The End Men has been the husband-wife duo of Matt Hendershot on guitar and vocals and Liv Ranalli on drums and backing vocals. A year or so ago, saxophonist Matthew Elia joined the band to enrich an already grinding sound.

The quick and easy summation of the band has been to say "he sounds kinda like Tom Waits". Admittedly, Waits and Hendershot share a gravelly, low-end vocal style - but the comparison needs to end there. Make no mistake about it. The End Men is a full-on rock-and-roll band.

The new album's opener, Copycat, was written at least two years ago before finding its way to an album. The video for it was featured on CXCW in 2013 as part of their Brooklyn rooftop, eight-song concert. Those unfamiliar with the band get an immediate sense of Ranalli's drumming style. Don't stand within her immediate circle as she is playing - or you'll likely find a pair of ProMark tips upside your head.

The second track, Beast of NYC, opens with some great, low-end guitar and a full-frontal attack by Liv on her toms and cymbals. On the recorded version, Elia's sax arrives about a minute into the song and complements the bottom end of the song's sound by Hendershot's guitar and vocals.

Morning Birds - the third song - may be my favorite of the album. The song opens with a quick face featuring all three of the band members. After about 30 seconds, the tempo drops back into a jazzy, NYC speakeasy feel where Elia's thick sax sound is featured before Hendershot's lyrics begin. Then with a minute to go in the six-minute song, Liv grabs the tempo and makes it her own. The song's vibe turns on a dime as they race home the final 60 seconds.

Need another song that will guarantee you'll crank the volume and open the throttle wherever you're driving - po-po be damned? Grab Caretaker. Think Bon Scott on vocals - but with a deeper octave growl from Matt.

If you are a comics fan, you may dig East of West. It's a solid song in its own right, and the song was inspired by the science fiction Western comic by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta.

Defining Deviance Down winds down the album with almost a Southern rock'ish groove open. As Elia and Ranalli join, however, the full, greasy sound of the album returns.

Despite the legalese, Terms & Conditions is a must listen. Get it for an easy 8 bucks at Bandcamp. Face it - you'd spend that much or more on a few bottles of craft beer anyway.