On Friday, self-proclaimed “unruly vaudeville” band EGRESS – expertly comprised of “Tyrant” Taylor (Vocals, Accordion, Cello), “Saddle” Sarah (Vocals, Piano, Violin), John” Toobie Doo” Wentz (Tuba, Vocals), Jaclyn “the” Kidd (Guitar, 6 String Banjo), Joe “BONE” Lynch (Trombone, Backup Vocals), “Easy” Chet Sullivan (Trumpet, Backup Vocals), and Nick Pecca (Drums) – released their 13 track, frills-packed full-length Onward! Up A Frightening Creek. From the very beginning of “VooDoo”, there is a sense of that this band should have come from the south, as their sound is much more theatrical New Orleans than anything we’d expect from their hometown of Bethlehem, PA. But that is the quirky beauty in what they’re doing, and we’re so on board.
Second track “Whiskey on My Grave” has almost a dreamlike quality to it, which makes sense as this is the most anyone could hope for in the afterlife, if we do say so ourselves. The tempo drops slightly for “Cinematic Savior”, though the vocals feel more soulful in comparison to the punk-tinged vocals of its predecessor. “Mark Of The Beast” is resplendent in its texture, really bringing an otherworldly gypsy feel to the album. “Chopped Down” brings us back to a slightly more folk sound, though we know we’re in for more intense genre swaps before the end of Onward! Up A Frightening Creek.
“See No Evil” meanders along, the raspy vocals simply instructing us to “kill our enemies” as casually as possible, amongst other fun lines. (But no ill will, right guys?) “Rollin'” has a smoother, big band backdrop, and we can imagine a can can line and the beautiful frenzy of skirts as the track speeds up and brings us to a more anxious sound space. (And commentary on the repetitiveness of history.) Eighth track “Ode To Bukowski’s Women” is up there with “Whiskey On My Grave” as one of our favorite titles, and EGRESS swaps between the vintage tinge of their phenomenal female vocalist and a deep, almost sinister male vocalist. It makes for one of the more unique tracks we have heard as of late, and we’re intrigued to see the response to this one in particular.
“Nelly Mae” picks up the tempo, a track we can envision an entire park full of people frantically dancing to. “All We Have, We Give To You” has the most self-sacrificing title of the bunch, and we don’t disagree as the intensity of the instrumentals is proof itself. The lyrics are honest, as they sing about sleep habits, drinking, and having three heads. (Normal things, ya know?) “Southbound” and its accompanying intro clearly belong in a touring musical, and we’re slightly disappointed they aren’t yet.
Although, if we’re being honest, the majority of this work belongs in its own stage production. (So do you want to get on that, EGRESS?)
The band rounds out Onward! Up A Frightening Creek with “Going Home (Again)”, an anthem-type of track that is upbeat and details an intense journey home. But the nifty part of it is that they’ve decisively woven some very interesting social commentary into the words – though that’s hardly a surprise at this point – and have captivated their listeners with standout lines like “Bowie took our friends in his spaceship to sit this one out/They’re looking down on earth and convinced that it’s always been round.” It’s sincerely the best way we could think to round out the new release. (And if you don’t think you’ve had enough of that track, check out the music video here.)
Onward! Up A Frightening Creek is out now. Keep up with EGRESS every day right here.