For this go around of “First Look” we journey
to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet Blue Epic; a modern rock powerhouse that
just made their debut in record stores via a EP released by Empathic Recordings/TVT
Musically the band lands somewhere between
“Sugar” era Tonic and PrimeSTH, not a bad place to be at all. For the most
part, Blue Epic weaves intriguing “bright” sounding guitar leads with moving
rhythms and extremely melodic vocals. While all four members work together
the secret to Blue Epic is the interplay between lead vocalist Phillip
Roberson and lead guitarist Hadwin Brown. It’s not Page/Plant but the two
complement each other beautifully giving the band a very strong frontline.
Some will throw this band into the “modern
rock” field and others will place them in the “indie rock” category. It’s
true that both genres have a lot in common but there are some distinctions.
Blue Epic really straddles the line between the two. Not slick enough to
earn the modern rock distinction and they don’t pack enough angst to land
the “indie rock” label. However, the music is slick enough to be viable
commercially, while at the same time retaining indie rock credibility due
to the vocals and arrangements.
Roberson vocals lead the way with a voice
that bridges the gap between Tonic’s Emerson Hart and Blind Mellon’s Shannon
Hoon. Roberson’s vocals have a plaintive quality to them that makes the
listener empathetic to the emotions he is trying to capture in the songs.
Producer Chad Blinman (Get Up Kids, Face to Face) does a masterful job
of bringing the songs together with a multi-layered feel that give the
band a “big” sound but not going too far and making the music sound over-produced.
On the negative side is the fact that is
only an EP. I for one was disappointed when it came to an abrupt end after
five tracks. The EP contains four original songs and a cover of Neil Young’s
“A Man Needs A Maid”. On that cover Roberson captures a bit of Young’s
feel but then as the song progresses he makes it all his own. But it’s
the original tracks that win the day. Especially “Time To Borrow” and “Underwater,”
two songs that do the best of showing us all sides of Blue Epic.
“Love & Hate EP” is a strong introduction
for Blue Epic, now we have to see if their full-length debut can generate
the same excitement. If it does then we have a definite winner.
Website - learn more about the band and preview songs from their EP