Reviews February 1, 2018

Decatur – Self-Titled

by Kevin Johnston

front-panel-1.jpgDenver-based quintet Decatur proclaim their sound as “slithering guitar rock.” It’s an apt descriptor for the ominous atmosphere, overdriven guitars and cigarette-flecked vocals that permeate their eponymous EP.

A dark intro of floating guitar, organ and understated drums allow us to “dip your toes” (as vocalist Sean DeCrescenzo rasps in “Don’t Talk”) before we fully “get our feet wet” with a band who come across as loaded with life experience – especially for having just released their first EP.

Track two, “Cold,” claims that “whiskey and cigarettes ain’t the same without you… I’ve been fighting my vices cuz I hate the truth.” It’s a bleak verse, but it leads us to one of the records’ first surprises: a lifting, Nada Surf-style plea of a chorus.

“Hide Me Away” features the second set of surprises: vocal harmonies bursting through on the chorus and a guitar-riff breakdown that could be lifted from a Guns N’ Roses deep cut. It’s a prime example of the breadth of rock influences Decatur bring to the table.

Speaking of which, “Shadows” is the sharpest turn away from the general whiskey-verb-rock tone of the EP. A straight-up latin groove with vibra-slap and congas evoke a Santana-like cross-over at the record’s mid-point.

The rapid flow of 32nd note hi-hats on “Every Little Step” bring to mind even more crossover stylings. This time, it’s late 90’s funk-rock á la 311 with vocals adrift on reverb and layered fuzzy guitars.

Though the boys from Decatur jump though modern-rock’s sub-genres, an atmosphere of dark expanse is ever-present. First impressions of their sound land us somewhere between Wilco’s croak, The Dropkick Murphy’s frankness and The National’s idea of a lead-baritone cloaked in well-produced smoke and mirrors. But as the EP chugs along, we realise what a role hard-hitting 90’s bands have played in Decatur’s particular rock n’ roll formation.