Closer – Old Baker Street – EP Review
Testing…testing 1, 2, 3…
I’m not quite prepared to say we’re fully back in action & the site’s completely ready to roll just yet…but we’re getting really damn close…r. Let me see if I remember how to work the controls here and post up one of the best kept secrets of noise-rock released this year…
It’s been so strange watching this one roll out, I gotta tell ya. *shakes stick towards sky* I’m not entirely sure if I was still in Vancouver that I would have let this shit slide – but Closer barely let it slip that this record even came out. That being said they’re much more Instagram-inclined than I am…so maybe the evidence is there…but as far as the rest of the sites go, you can find a mention of an upcoming EP as far back as February…and then like, a bunch of promo-shots for one of the anticipated singles/videos from the record…and then…??? Where in the all-fuck is the official announcement boys? If you look closely at pages like their page at Facebook, you won’t find a single mention of the EP officially being released at all – though you will find links to the videos made for two of the three cuts. For the record, the Old Baker Street EP came out back on the 15th of March. Ahem.
I’ve got almost all these fuckers on speed-dial…I really should just call them up and ask what in the hell is going on. Or what WAS going on? If you’ve seen the videos, if you’ve heard the songs, if you know the band – then you know that’s where the real focus is, it’s in the music, man – and rightly so. Still…give the people out there a heads-up will ya boys? Just cause you play loud enough & hard enough for the world to hear ya from wherever you’re plugged in doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be beating us all over the bloody heads with the fact that the OLD BAKER STREET EP is out, available, and obviously fuckin’ SLAYS.
So in this first review back after the most heinous of summers known to mankind over here at SBS, that’s where I’m choosing to spend my time…I’ll do the yelling for them, not at them…this time. So JUST in case you missed it – the OLD BAKER STREET EP is out, available, and obviously fuckin’ SLAYS. You see? Repetition is easy, and it totally works. I chose to challenge myself by typing all that out twice for your amusement, but really I could have copied & pasted it all…that’s what you call true dedication to the art.
The point is – there ain’t hardly a record out there that, just by getting it recorded, wouldn’t qualify as an achievement…shout it from the freakin’ rooftops when you do y’all. As for Closer, they should be proud of what they’ve accomplished here once again – things sound bigger, better, and more badass than they ever have in a recording for what’s essentially a band that truly has to be experienced LIVE.
For starters, they continued the story of a song that’s been a main staple of their set from day one pretty much…almost surprising to find “New Wave Cult Sanctuary” here again on the Old Baker Street EP when it had been previously recorded for the Sugar LP that they’d done as a split album with Fey in 2015. That being said, the savage difference is entirely noticeable…time & experience always count for something, and they get this version so much closer to what Closer is capable of in their natural habitat from the stage with a more refreshed energy and straight-up harder edge to the whole sound. I wouldn’t take too many points away from the old version…in fact, the Sugar LP ended up making our top-ten list at the end of 2015 when the dust had all settled – but there’s not a doubt in my mind that you can hear just how much the band has progressed, tightened-up, and refined its cutthroat sound on this song even more on this new version. I ain’t talking like…you know…I ain’t saying this is a similar situation like Nirvana experienced when hearing Nevermind for the first time after Bleach and feeling like they were all of a sudden Motley fucking Crue – the wildness, menace, and mayhem you love is fully intact and Closer is still Closer – but if you compare the two versions, you will find more slickness to this new one. Ultimately, I think that works in their favor when it comes to the masses out there listening – but there’s little if anything that can be done to hurt such a kickass & in-yer-face cut like this – whether live or recorded, Closer knows “New Wave Cult Sanctuary” inside & out and they never miss when it comes to the execution. Notably however, is the addition of Matt Beaudin, now playing bass for Closer & replacing their former bassist April – and they’ve also ended up in a studio with something to prove to get this EP recorded as well. You combine that with the unbreakable bond shared between the four original players in Closer – Jake, Ryan, Tyler, and Trevor – and I’m tellin’ ya people…they’re really sounding monstrous in all the right ways. “New Wave Cult Sanctuary” has more BEEF to its sound here – more weight to it no matter which aspect of the music/vocals you examine, and overall comes out so much closer to the band you know & love from the stage while also proving how pro they’re getting when it comes to their studio time. It’s two fine-ass minutes you certainly won’t forget – turn this UP.
Look. It’s no secret that I have always loved Closer – I’ve been in this crew’s corner from day one. You’re not going to find that I have anything bad to say about’em here in this review, because there’s simply nothing to pick on – these guys fucking rock the shit out of speakers and they’re crushing it here on the Old Baker Street EP. Keep in mind – as a longstanding fan, I also know how deep their catalog actually runs (or did when I was living in the same province at least – I’d bet money that it’s even larger now than what it was) – so the worst thing you’ll find me saying about them, is that when it comes to what they’ve chosen to record…yeah…sometimes that can be a bit mystifying. They’ve believed in “Payable Rent” probably a bit more than I have over the years…but when you hear the payoff in the payload here on this EP…well…what can I say other than, sure, I’ve been wrong before…it happens. Listening to them stick this recorded version with as much savage ferocity & intensity would put the end results right up there with hearing “Payable Rent” live for me, no doubt about it. Essentially, it’s always been a strong cut from the Closer live-set – but it’s in hearing how well that this recorded version has come out that makes me fully understand why they’ve never once given up on this song. Keep in mind – this is the same band that has retired their epic song “Empires” from the Sugar LP – and the very same band that STILL has incredible unrecorded material like “Hoss,” “Head Down,” “Precursor To War” – and a whole record’s worth more songs already I bet. To me, it really says a lot that they’ve never given up on, moved on from, or abandoned this tune over the years, and instead continued to dial-in on the full-scope of the wickedness inside of “Payable Rent” until the mix was right where they want it to be. Plus I mean c’mon folks…the killer riffs & crunchiness played out by Trevor Hutton and Jake Cummins on the guitars of this song are always going to be worth your time…and when they hit the chorus of “Payable Rent” and Ryan Rutherford kicks into full-gear, it just makes you want to start turning tables over and staging a complete overthrow of the nearest government to ya. It’s highly controlled chaos and an oddly danceable groove at the very same time…it ticks all the damn boxes & explodes through the rest.
Now…here’s where things get MASSIVELY exciting…and of the three reasons they give ya here on this EP to listen to’em, I’d absolutely argue that “Wintergreen” is the number one reason you’ll find – this WILL be the song to hook many of you in that have never heard them before…and if you were even close to being on the fence with Closer before, this cut will pull you right onto their side & silence any doubters once & for all. Because “Wintergreen” didn’t just come out as a great song for Closer – this is a song any band that understands what it takes to truly ROCK would wish they’d created & recorded themselves – it’s THAT awesome. As some of you out there know from the legends & stories I’ve told about this band over the years, I’ve literally watched “Wintergreen” go from a killer drum-riff supplied by the incredible mind of Tyler Hutton, all the way to the song that it’s become today, with multiple stops, tweaks, and deviations along the way. And YES – I’ve enjoyed EVERY damn minute – because this KILLER song has absolutely ALWAYS been one of their very best from the day it was conceived to whatever day you’re reading this article now. Again, if you’re as much of a fan as I am, you’ve been waiting for this day to come; always great to see it live of course – but equally awesome, is the ability to play one of your favorite cuts loud’n’proud without having to wait until the next show comes along – and now we all can.
Arguably the most accessible cut from Closer to-date with the most universal appeal…”Wintergreen” has a monumental level of crossover sound on this track – and it’s going to have a whole shitload of people out there wondering just how they got hooked into a genre they were scared to click on before. There’s just enough of a punk/alternative edge & chip on their shoulder here that they’ll grab those fans too, every bit as much as the ones they’re already impressing inside of the noise-rock circuit. So don’t say I didn’t warn you when you accidentally walk in on your grandma cranking this cut up straight to the rafters – believe me, Closer didn’t go soft on ya – your grandma is literally just that cool & just like the rest of us, as in, completely susceptible to full-on rock-awesomeness. It’d be extremely hard for anyone to resist a track that has come out as gripping & intense as this song does from beginning to end. Love what they’ve done with the backing vocals, Ryan’s large & in-charge up-front, Tyler’s got this track locked-down in the back from the drum-throne – and those beautifully fuzzy & distorted guitar tones everywhere in between are second to NONE. “Wintergreen” grabs ya by the scrote and downright dares you to cough as it twists, turns, and tugs you from the nuts on up…or your lady-parts…whatever, you get the idea – it’s a seriously unreal tune I’ve been turning up all year from its earlier demo stages, to the finalized version you hear on Old Baker Street – you’ll feel it too…there’s a nuclear-level of energy, rage/pop, and sonic-savagery that cannot be denied on this cut.
So the real question is…did they exceed my expectations? Because I have’em when it comes to Closer, as much as I try to stay away from expecting anything out of any band or artist out there…like I said, I’ve been there with these guys shoulder-to-shoulder from day ONE on the front-lines, all the way back from when people weren’t sure of what seemed to be an offshoot of Tyler & Trevor’s other band in The Pit before it became the solidly reliable entity that Closer has truly become today. And while I’d like to say no…I’d probably have to admit that, yes…they not only crushed this EP from every angle – they DID in fact, take it a level beyond what even I expected they were capable of. Some of that’s the recording itself – some of that’s the tightness & evolution of the band – and another huge aspect in the lasting impact this record makes also comes through the visuals they’ve got put together to support this EP. “New Wave Cult Sanctuary” has an awesome video that you can check out here at our pages by clicking here…we’ve posted that up in the past – it was the first cut to hit the ol’ airwaves around the release date of this EP when it first initially came out. Taking EVERYTHING to that next-level where this band 100% deserves to go to, is the video for “Wintergreen” – which again, isn’t just a great video for Closer – it’s an amazing video by the standards of WHATEVER your favorite band may be – it’s one of the best out there, period. I ain’t just sayin’ that because I cling so hard to the ten nuts in this band – I’m sayin’ it, because it’s the straight-up unfiltered raw truth – it’s an electrifying song to begin with, and the video might even make it that much better. Psychedelic, twisted, wicked…it’s all these things & more – the perfect visual accompaniment to a band with a sound that you couldn’t help but describe with the same strong words & adjectives. I knew I was going to like or love the song…there was zero doubt about that whatsoever…but I ain’t gonna lie to ya folks…the video for “Wintergreen” damn near blew my mind out.
So think about all this stuff I’ve said dear readers, dear friends. ”New Wave Cult Sanctuary” proved just how much they’d evolved between their last recording & this one by a direct comparison. “Payable Rent” showed us that they could bring their live-sound successfully to a recording without compromise. And “Wintergreen” delivers a professional payload of atomic proportions both visually and audibly. It’s impossible to deny that Closer is still completely on the way up & that everything about this band is shaper than ever on the Old Baker Street EP. They unearthed brilliant new ways to thrill us with as much professionalism in the mix as there is scathingly punishing sound to listen to…which I suspect will be the case for quite some time to come over the years to follow…and I couldn’t be happier about all that.
Find out more about Closer from their official page at Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/closerbc