Cedar Reed – Man On The Left – EP Review
Let it always be said as it reflects the absolute certain truth – first impressions count, always. I suppose it might be something to do with the L.A. vibe, but Cedar Reed…folks ‘round these parts say HELLO when working together! Otherwise it’s like starting off completely in the minus…now it’s the music that has to speak for you on behalf of your silent introductory submission snuck slyly into my inbox. The link I’ve got actually takes me to two recordings with no indication as to which is in review! So I’m taking that as ‘dealer’s choice’ and I’m choosing to review Cedar Reed’s Man On The Left EP…cause that’s the way I’m playing this one out in this scenario. And of course – it’s GOTTA be good now right? Cause if it’s not…good lord – can you imagine what a person’s opinion might turn into when feeling more like a slave than a writer or potential ally? One can only imagine. Cedar Reed…I wish you the best of luck in the words to follow…
Wouldn’t you know it…starting out the EP with a cover tune from ESG called “Up Up, Down Down” I can already feel that their music is going to tell me everything I wanted to know. Let’s face it – people are boring 95% of the time; if your music sounds as entertaining as this does, I get how regular conversation might become a complete waste of time. Cedar Reed comes out displaying about half-throttle on their full-stomp throughout the stop/start music of “Up Up, Down Down” – but that’s all good, they’re breaking us in. It’s entertaining, has excellent guitar playing and smart rhythm without giving away the entire recipe for the magical musical meal we’re about to dine on.
The tempo comes up and the game is on quickly as Cedar Reed takes us into the title-track “The Man On The Left.” For people out there right now loving the music and assisting the popularity of an artist like Shakey Graves is currently – this track is for you. Cedar Reed in general…would be for you; it’s just this particular cut would probably bring Graves to mind for anyone that listens to both acts as it seems to bring out that stomp-rock edge just that 10% more. Similar to the vibe you can pick up in “Roll The Bones” from SG…this track really has that energy and pulse that captivates & gets your inner-rock rolling along. Loose as all hell until about a minute-and-a-half in, Cedar Reed plays this one with a real clever attitude and highlight musicianship.
Impressively coming from the minds of just two men, Cedar Reed is the bass/guitar talents of Danny Burkett and ‘Cedar’ Andy Reid on the drums & vocals. What I like about this resulting combination is that they don’t seem like they have to compromise their ideals whatsoever…to make five songs like this on an EP, you’ve gotta be unified & united in bringing that vision to life – and it seems that Cedar Reed is able to pull that off completely. Listening to the all-out rock on “Bourbon And Reefer” is like uncovering treasure; excellent instrumental work with guitars that have all the personality you could possibly hope for. The ending will throw you a little as the timing becomes complex, revealing the true driving force behind the music of Cedar Reed, the amazing ability they have to read each other and make the music come out exactly as they intend.
The final song on the EP, “Sea Of Drops (Acoustic)” is…
…it’s umm…wait a second…
Sorry…I was hitting the bong for a moment and forgot to mention “Stoned And Missed It.” Sorry Cedar Reed…Pavlovian response I can’t do much about…you sent me an audible cue to go green for this one. In all honesty…it’s a great track with a subtle, stony-rhythm that gets hazy in all the right ways. The additional layers and effort they made in adding in guitars, like around the 2:30 mark are genius…the vocals of Reid are stoic and entertaining throughout “Stoned And Missed It” and really throughout the entire Man On the Left EP; they’re all delivered with confidence and genuine style. Almost treads into Tom Waits’ territory at times, which sounds awesome and really helps fuel the innovative & creative side of “Stoned And Missed It.”
“Sea Of Drops (Acoustic)” is one of those tougher ones as a band or artist to judge whether or not to include. As a listener, as much as I truly like this song – my vote is a firm no. With the rest of the clarity of the album in check, this final song is completely blown-out in its mix at times and ends up kind of disrupting the overall atmosphere of the EP despite the cohesion in the writing. Without thinking about the mix, Cedar Reed has another excellent song and rhythm here on “Sea Of Drops (Acoustic)” and I totally don’t blame them for keeping the song itself when the performance sounds as entertaining, loose and fun as it does. But like I’d always recommend when you can’t get the evenness you need between tracks…break out the ol’ CD single or promo it on its own, lest you risk the entire experience for the listener.
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