The Eastern: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

 |   |  1 min read

The Eastern: The Steeple
The Eastern: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

The Eastern out of Christchurch are new to me although for the past few months their name has been mentioned a lot, always along the lines of, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern."

Now I have and I too am saying, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern".

Part arse-kickin' Steve Earle (for whom they have opened), part reflective old time country, part Old Crow Medicine Show (for whom they have also opened), part country-styled Dylan and the Band, lots of energy and by all accounts one of the hardest working bands in the country, they impress on every count with this second album.

With two songwriters in their ranks -- banjo player, guitarist and singer Jess Shanks and mandolin player, bassist, guitarist and harmonica player Adam McGrath -- they can also draw on diverse sources: Shanks favours the quieter moods (the very beautiful and understated Maria, The Steeple and Breaks Like a Love Song); McGrath tosses out the country rock narratives and some finger-pointing. 

His drawled Talking Advertising Cellular Sellout Blues is about how cynical advertisers hijack or appropriate good songs to sell product . . . and how some musicians go along with this debasing of their work. He has another go at sponsored singers on the Internet in The Needles Eye, and there is a political conscience at work too (Be True). 

However he also pens the lovely, lowkey Gospel which wouldn't disgrace a Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt album, the beautiful opener The Engineers Promise which sounds 200 years old, and delivers some astute poetry: "Oh mystery send me a sordid history of cheap songs and a tale long gone, let her tell me that she missed me . . ."

So with classic country instrumentation (the band includes accordion, piano, double bass, violin and drums), McGrath's dusty road vocals and Shanks' sweet and classic country sound, and 13 originals this is quite some discovery if, like me, the Eastern are new to you.

Really, if you like some of those names checked above -- and Springsteen in singer-songwriter mode -- then yes, you gotta hear the Eastern. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Gun Outfit: Out of Range (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

Gun Outfit: Out of Range (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

The bleached image of Monument Valley on the cover of this fifth album by a now LA-based five-piece gives you the physical and metaphorical reference for their spacious, slightlydelic desert... > Read more

The Late Pages: Yellow and Grey (Ellamy)

The Late Pages: Yellow and Grey (Ellamy)

Recorded by Louis Bernstone at his Ellamy Studios in Auckland (as was the recent Flaming Mudcats album) this searing album of 11 powerful power-pop, alt.rock and dynamic ballads all come from the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Big Daddy Wilson: Love is the Key (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Big Daddy Wilson: Love is the Key (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Singer Wilson from North Carolina is yet another of those US blues (and jazz) artists who found a more sympathetic and profitable environment in Europe and these days operates out of Germany... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Duane Eddy; $1,000,000.00 Worth of Twang

THE BARGAIN BUY: Duane Eddy; $1,000,000.00 Worth of Twang

Although they might have looked and sounded more tame than their counterparts who followed in the mid Sixties, the late Fifties and the pre-Beatle years boasted any number of "guitar... > Read more