Just about two years into their life as a trio, the Nebs deliver their first release this week, a four-song EP, After All. Therein, frontman Matt Grassi announces himself as a bit of a songwriter.
Though the quiet guitar open on "After All, What's in a Reflection" is pretty basic, Grassi's breathy vocals do well with "you yell, you scream, you pout, you kick, you shout/As I realize what this was all about." Then Dominic Grosso's bass bleeds in before drummer Cam Jones accompanies Grassi in a screamo chorus: "You know they say that love is a lost and dying art/Well love to me is a blindfold in the dark." The juxtaposition is a little forced, but it mostly works.
"You Know What You Wanted" could use some tightening in the harmonies, and Grassi's lead vocal could use some reverb, but as they were recording this all in a day at Grassi's house with Adam Veaner, it may be they didn't have a ton of tools available to them.
Most successful is the folksy "Watercolors," where Grassi sounds like he's trying out for the Juno sequel, delivering a great and quirky ballad.
The Nebs close with "6's & 7's," which at least gets points for using that phrase correctly, and is Widespread Panic/Allman Brothers-infused bluesy rock, with Grosso given some time to walk the bass in a track that clocks in at 4:24, but is probably twice that live. It's nice, too, to hear Grosso belt it out without cracking into the scream, displaying some decent, if still maturing, pipes.
A young band still figuring out their sound, the Nebs at least deliver some interesting things to consider on this debut release.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFTER ALL | Released by the Nebs | with Tree Streets + In the Audience | at the Empire, in Portland | March 10 | thenebs.bandcamp.com