The Barr Brothers

Alta Falls

BY Sarah GreenePublished Apr 29, 2015

The Barr Brothers surprised critics and fans this week with an EP of off-cuts ("misfits" they call them) from their wonderful sophomore offering, Sleeping Operator. But the band's addendum shouldn't have come as such a surprise: as beautiful, textured, inventive and varied as the album is, in its current form, it's already fairly long, clocking in at 50 minutes or so. Since apparently the band recorded 40 tracks in the process of making Sleeping Operator, something had to give if the record wasn't going to be a double LP (or maybe even if it was).
The band have created a self-contained suite on the relatively brief Alta Falls, opening with the soundscape-y "Oscilla," closing with the meditative, reflective "May 4" and leaving the meatier songs for the middle part.
The EP gives a softer and stiller impression than the album, but they're related. "Burn Card" has its counterpart in Sleeping Operator highlight "Even The Darkness Has Arms" (the new song, with a similar guitar part and not dissimilar verse melody, sounds like it could be an answer to it); meanwhile, the EP's soulful title track, opening softly over blocks of piano chords, looks way back to a bygone summer day with drums emulating slowly crashing waves. We get some tasty slide guitar (along with uncharacteristically gravely vocals) on midtempo chugger "Never Been A Captain," which arrives at a sustained two-chord gospel part a la "Sister Ray" before breaking up with a touch of pretty acoustic blues (as always, the band takes care with transitions).
That was a nice surprise. Now, where are they hiding the rest?

Latest Coverage