Music Reviews
Calling Out

EZTV Calling Out

(Captured Tracks) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

There’s nothing modish about releasing a power pop record in 2015, especially one that very faithfully clings to its common attributes and refuses to glance forward. Brooklyn trio EZTV run the risk of getting “called out” for keeping their sound too tidy and inflexible, a rather unfair observation considering much of what we listen to in popular music derives from some form of repurposed art. So instead of wrapping their heads around whether or not they should make their songs sound “cool” or “uncool”, they proudly keep it as square with a carefree attitude. Play a jangly melody? Yeah, that’s certainly outmoded. But why not add some echo and reverb, or maybe some fuzzy guitar tones? That gives it more of an edge, right?

That’s certainly not in the agenda for these folk-pop disciples. Using a surplus of clean-sounding guitars attuned with chiming melodies, EZTV does write music that would’ve rivaled the late-seventies post-punk crowd. Except that it’s not watered-down punk, either, or it doesn’t intend to really flesh their valiant guitar riffing on occasion like a Cheap Trick record. Calling Out wants to sound timeless, delightfully out of time, and never does one track eclipse the other in an effort to keep things uniform and consistent. There’s more variety than it appears on first sight, however: it’s all in the tiny but crucial transitions, like how Hard to Believe will propel forward a floaty, Gram Parsons-inspired melody alongside its surefooted rhythmic gait to then surprise you with a sophisticated chord progression in Everything was Changing.

EZTV may be unassuming songwriters, but they do remind the listener that their lackadaisical-sounding flow is meant to be routinely disrupted with some necessary busywork. Almost every track in Calling Out features a good sorting of conspicuous power chords provided by frontman Ezra Tenenbaum, a reminder that it’s not just about fidgeting with careful arpeggios. There’s the joyous classic rock-tinged Dust in the Sky, which comes close to Creedence territory with its skillfully understated soloing, while Trampoline is riddled with a sweet, tuneful melody that never succumbs to elegiac nostalgia.

Through all this they touch on themes of solitude and adult affliction (mostly about the one that went away) with simple, impersonal statements, a sentiment taken straight out of the power pop rulebook. Which couldn’t be any more apropos for them - they keep themselves at arm’s length, and in good spirits, to ensure that the emotions they express are universal, even if the underlying point of it is to impress that girl for playing in a band. There’s no swagger to be found, though, which proves that these guys prefer to ruminate along with wistful longing than circling around in herky-jerky motions. But the guitars ring with clarity, and they are treated with a smooth efficiency that’s both smart and catchy.

What we get out of EZTV’s debut is a record that insists on utilizing brevity with daisy-glazed melodies that fall a little more on the serene side than the highly-charged kick of your typical power pop release. Pop concision is the norm and not the exception, focusing on deft songwriting while keeping a close eye on economy throughout. Calling Out is still a hard sell, seeing as the popularity of the genre it evokes hasn’t been relevant, or has had a big resurgence, in a little over thirty years. If life is fair to EZTV, they’ll hopefully achieve cult status alongside all the power pop visionaries of yesteryear that never stood a chance.