San Diego 8-piece The Innocent Bystanders have released this four-track EP comprised of songs written over twenty years ago – reinvented for this project with a fresh touch of modern musicality. Gotta Get Outta Here is the opener, introducing a folk-rock rhythm and warmth, a deep and genuine leading voice, a story-line with plenty of poetic detail, and a gorgeous touch of colourful jazz with the piano and the sax wandering freely within the mix. The band make their sound known pretty quickly with this first song, the whole thing has vibrancy, energy, passion, and leaves its hook lingering long after the music has stopped.
Highways is a piece that emerges with another hopeful and creatively free bass-line, soon accompanied by that now familiar, organic musical set-up. The leading voice varies now, a softer but still as genuine and real vocal performance drives the underlying sentiment and story-line in a fitting way. The movement of the song feels similar to the opener, the warmth and the uplifting, easy-going good times vibe stand tall at every step. Once you get used to that sound, that build-up, both of these songs work hard to get their ideas out into the room with you. The second time you listen, those lyrical details really start to paint a clear and wonderful picture.
The bass continues to kick things off, and that superb jazz piano shines brightly now too – Emerald Eyes is a personal highlight from this EP. The Innocent Bystanders have a definite thread throughout their songs, the musicianship is tight and effective, it sounds organic and real – a live performance would work wonders for a night out. The personal touch on this song adds an element of depth and human emotion that allows you to feel a little closer to (or more understood by) the musicians in the band. Considering the well-aged nature of these tracks, they work beautifully well as a collection for this release. The saxophone ‘riff’ or solo is an absolute strong point within this particular song. The contrast between the vocal lines and the music that fills the space between them is forever entertaining and helps make this a thoroughly infectious and memorable track.
Bringing the EP to a somewhat gentle finish is the ambient and thoughtful Working Man’s Daughter. The piano leads the way, the acoustic guitar and additional elements step up slowly and calmly. The leading voices combine in a soft, almost whispered manner. The lyrics meet well with this mood created by the music and the performances – this concept of taking a chance, setting your sights on something and intending to go for it, the slight uncertainty that may come with that – everything works in unison here to create a unique song and a final highlight from this short playlist. The optimism at this point is more subtle, the vibe is hopeful but quietly hypnotic, feeling a little more emotional and considerate than simply aiming for that energy and that ‘foot stomping’ sort of aura. It’s a strong way to end, it rounds things up nicely and reminds you at the final hurdle that the band have a lot going for them in the way of ability, creativity, and eclecticism.