CD Review: Montana 1948 EP Tiny Drawings Anything But Small

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In June 2010 indie rock band Montana 1948 will release the 12-track highly anticipated collection, Picket Fences. Until June hits, listeners will have to settle for the four-track EP Tiny Drawings. Proving that indie rock continues to expand and some bands still subscribe to expansive, high pitched electrical guitars and coherent lyrics shaped together like black and white photos; these four tracks elicit the same moment in a dark room when the photo emerges on the white, swimming through the chemicals and water.

San Francisco Based

Unlike its name suggests, Montana 1948, is actually comprised of San Francisco based musicians. Led by frontman Ryan Lafferty, the band includes Charlie Maynard on drums, Dan Prull at lead guitar and Raza Malik at bass. According to its biography, the band took its name from the 1993 Western novel by Larry Watson.

At times this band sounds like it might best be at home in a John Hughe’s movie from the 1980s, and at other times, Cafferty is another Brandon Flowers (The Killers). While Flowers has a bit more range and the quirkiness to match the New Wave sound, Cafferty and Montana 1948 manage to move beyond pretentious lyrics and muffled guitar riffs. Rather, they have punchy riffs (think The Strokes) and Cafferty harmonizes without sounding too show choir.

With only four songs on the EP, it’s hard to choose the outstanding favorite. Each has its own personality, at the same time, hone in on a core sound of sonic movement and slight puck. Cafferty’s voice is perfect in each song and he’s equipt to lead this band. The listener might wish for tighter orchestration, but really, it’s all produced finely.

Power Pop

In track three, “Streetlights,” this power pop song is catchy and the most pop sounding. It repeats, yes, but not to the point of nausea. The final track, “January Jones” has a cheery disposition. Cafferty sings “we tried to do what is right, but who cares, we’re fueling the fight” and this listener took notice of the interesting play on words. Montana 1948 has a knack for taking simple lyrics and making an interesting story without insulting its listeners.

The first track “How to Swim” opens up with a grand riff, immediately transitioning to pounding basswork. Cafferty’s tone emits grit, but with refreshing honesty and emotion. Track two, “Mexico” takes the prize as best song. Something about Cafferty’s control of the lyrics defines the airy, rockish soul of Montana 1948. This song is uplifting. The guitar riffs are distinct without taking precendence. Each note and lyric song seamlessly threads throughout this California-sounding song.

Fans of Phoenix, Paramore, Angels & Airwaves, Mister Mister, The Killers, Rooney, Snow Patrol, Nada Surf will want to check out Montana 1948. This band is power pop and its EP certainly opens the door for more songs. Keep tabs on this band