Wednesday, November 28, 2007

EP Review: The Judas Cow

by Dave Schaefer

With two former members of Columbus’s now-defunct Silo the Huskie, The Judas Cow’s short history is already entrenched in the city’s local scene. The garage Cowtown sound is embodied in the likes of Watershed, Twin Cam and Earwig -- and The Judas Cow fits comfortably in that crowd. But at the same time they’re able to distinguish themselves with their guy-next-door vocals, depth of lyrics and clever but straightforward hooks.

Just before playing the CD101 Summerfest, they put together an EP. A surprisingly good EP of melodic pop rock with a few surprises thrown in.

I was most taken by “Exit Strategy,” the first track on the 4-song EP. It’s lyrically brilliant, using personal and tragic words backed up by snappy, danceable music to create a biting critique of the war in Iraq. You find yourself happily tapping your foot while inwardly you realize you’re thinking a little deeper about a subject you thought you were contentedly disconnected from. This is an affecting song -- and it’s rare that I raise any song to that level.

“Great Divide” sends us back into the more traditional Columbus sound -- a straighforward, hooky, rock song that has a great fade-out/build-up halfway in. Granted, there’s nothing particularly new and different about this song, but it’s amazingly catchy nonetheless. The Judas Cow injects just enough of themselves to make it incredibly listenable and sets it up as a great example of how you can take a traditional sound and make it your own.

If “Great Divide” shows what The Judas Cow can do when they take their genre and twist it a little, “Kerouac Part 2” shows what happens when they just give into it. The lyrics to this song are exceptional, but the track overall seems like it’s a potentially punk song gone somewhat awry. Like a Dead Milkmen song covered by Daughtry. It’s not a bad song by any means, it’s simply not meeting its potential. Before casting final judgement, I’d like to see them perform this one live -- I have a feeling it’s a song not easily translated into a studio session.

The final track “Earlvoyeur” sends them back running onto the pitch. The most mellow of any of the tracks, the lyrics, vocals and music match up on this song better than any other on the EP. All the pieces fit together to create something so appealingly comfortable that it’s almost melancholy. And that’s a good thing.

Although I’ve never experienced their live show, I have a feeling this EP is merely a shade of what The Judas Cow is capable of -- both on stage and in the studio -- and I’m anxious to see where they go from here.

The Judas Cow will be opening for Cincinnati band Wussy at Andyman’s Treehouse this Friday, November 30th, along with Bookmobile.

The Judas Cow is:
Kevin Spain (vocals, guitar)
Chris Bair (vocals, guitar)
Dave Murphy (drums, percussion)

Ryan Haye (backing vocal, bass)


Anonymous said...

I listened to the four songs, and I liked them too. There is something about the sound of the lead guitar. It has a very pleasing sound to it, and it is played to perfection by the guitarist. I have heard the seven-song CD by Judas Cow, and it is great. You just want to play it over and over again. It is really a showcase for the band and the "Midwestern" sound they can play so well.I thought that the lyrics of the EP were kinda hard to hear because of the overriding sound of the instruments. But then, if that is the nature of the "cowtown garage" sound, so be it I guess. I think a really great CD would be the intermingling of the best from the seven-song CD and the EP. Now that would be something to hear, and to buy. Good luck to yeah, Judas Cow.

Anonymous said...

I have also heard the CD, and I think that would be a cool idea to mix the best of the two. I would also add in a couple of straight instrumentals, no vocals, cause these guys can really play some good RnR. Also, we can get a chance to really hear that melodius sound of that lead guitar.