The Hard Tomorrows: 5 Songs
The Hard Tomorrows' five-song EP begins with "Put Yourself Out," the song available for download here at betterPropaganda. It's my favorite song on the album, and I think it has the potential to be a radio-friendly single that can be embraced by hipsters and mainstream music fans alike. It begins gently as Rob Pierangeli sings about dusting off old records and hiding from the world under his headphones and grows to a beautiful peak that's deceptively uplifting. "It rains harder, my skin is thick so I don't mind. Everything is fine," he sings, but I'm not convinced that it is.
The band's guitar skills are perhaps best showcased on the second track, "Jaywalker." Guitarist Rishi Chakrabarty (who also plays the harmonium on the album) and singer/guitarist Pierangeli get more aggressive on this track than anywhere on the EP as Pierangeli sings about ultimatums, second chances and reconciliation. Pierangeli, who once played guitar in prominent D.C. band Army of Me, has a great voice that seamlessly goes from vulnerable to confident to angry.
The third song, "Dear Mary," begins with what sounds like a church choir before the more typical indie rock music begins. On all of the songs, but especially here, bassist Paul Michel (who also plays the keyboard on the album) contributes backup vocals that blend beautifully with Pierangeli's singing. I'm not quite sure what this song is about, with lyrics about two dollar bills, the moon and breaking waves, but the melancholy that comes across so beautifully negates my confusion and draws me into the song.
The misanthropic "I Never Write Anymore" could be a Radiohead song, with Pablo Honey-era guitars and Kid A-style gloomy electronica; yet instead of coming off like a cheap imitation, it sounds like a lost track. Pierangeli even has Thom Yorke's get-away-from-me-no-come-closer vocals down, only without the spastic quality that many find off-putting.
After seeing the title of the last song, "Stay Cool," I thought it would be about writing in yearbooks at the end of the school year, but luckily the song doesn't rely on middle school for its material. Instead, the "cool" here is the opposite of "rash," as Pierangeli tries to convince someone not to leave. "Stay Cool" is about as sad and desperate as breakup songs get. The line "If you walk away, well, I'll snatch your shoes and cry" is repeated throughout. Drummer Mike Tasevoli is consistently good throughout the album, whether it's on a slow track like this or a song like "Jaywalker" that requires more energy.
Although the EP is called 5 Songs, a hidden track brings the count up to six. This mostly instrumental track is part of a song called "Take Down" by one of Pierangeli's former bands, The Glaciers. It's too incomplete to significantly contribute to the quality of the EP, but should be of interest to fans that have been following the development of The Hard Tomorrows.
I couldn't conclude a review of the 5 Songs EP without mentioning its great packaging. The CD case comes with five interchangeable covers, each wonderfully bright and morbid at the same time: a man in a tiny boat about to be overtaken by a giant wave, a misguided rooster crowing at the moon, a bird with a broken and bleeding wing, a cute little grim reaper with a blood-covered sickle, a strange-looking bald little boy with a skull on his shirt. From far away, these cartoon images, created by Becky Schmidt (www.becschmidt.com) might look cheerful in their simplicity, but on a second look they work quite well with the band's name: the future might be colorful, but it's not looking too happy. Oh well, at least I have The Hard Tomorrows to help me get through today.