The members of Corduroy play in other bands around Baltimore that sound nothing like their off-kilter brand of Sarah Records jangle pop. Singer and guitarist Blake Douglas plays bass in noisy, grungy band GLOOP. Bassist Erik Wagner plays in indie rock/emo band Mess and the Baltimore collective Boat Water. Drummer Nathan O’Dell, who moved out to the West Coast shortly after making this EP, is a member of dream pop/shoegaze band Wildhoney. And here they all are – writing simple, carefree guitar songs together as Corduroy.
Their self-titled EP is an exploration of Tullycraft-esque music, but also adds a rainy-day mood to the fun-loving, carefree tendencies of indie pop. The focus of Corduroy’s short but captivating EP is melody. From the vocal melodies to the guitar leads, Corduroy has managed to write an EP that is sonically haphazard yet earnest and heartfelt.
Opener “Malt Disney” is a perfect introduction to what this band does best: writing dreamy pop songs. With the simple tambourine, bass, and snare groove providing a heartbeat, the vocals and guitar are able to float on top like clouds. Drenched in reverb, the vocal melodies sound as if they are almost tumbling on top of each other. It’s an incredible opener to the EP – setting a warm, “sunset” tone to the record right from the start. “Portico” features perhaps some of the best guitar work on the EP. Once again, it’s another beautiful, jangly guitar pop but this time around it feels infused with slacker vibes. The leads are reminiscent of those found on Pavement songs like “Gold Soundz” or “Range Life.” Douglas’s vocals are earnest and sentimental, providing the perfect layer to these pop songs. The eponymous “Corduroy” is the shortest song on the record, but lacks none of the fervor of its predecessors. With its closed hi-hat verses and frantic guitar strumming, “Corduroy” is my personal favorite song on the record. The guitar lead that reoccurs throughout the song is just a brilliantly balanced, tasteful lead that rivals any melody in the indie pop canon as instantly whimsical.
“Big Boat” starts off the second half of the EP on a mellower note. It’s a mid-tempo ballad, with a rather haunting melody and guitar arpeggiated guitar chords dripping with chorus. The mood shifts on this song to one that sounds full of expectancy, as if Douglas and crew have been waiting for something amazing to happen that hasn’t yet come. It sounds “on the verge,” which is a rare and beautiful feeling for a pop song. “Potted Plant” picks up the album’s pace again, with an infectious ride cymbal groove and a melody reminiscent of ‘80s bands like The Smiths. “Seventh Season” starts off with kick, snare, and tambourine, and kicks into another slow, moody song. Ripe with sentimentality and longing, “Seventh Season” is a perfect ending to this EP.
Though under 20 minutes, Corduroy has managed to pack so many brilliant moments onto this self-titled collection of songs. EPs sometimes do not feel whole, and often can’t take listeners on the same journey that an album can. But, Douglas, Wagner, and O’Dell have managed to gather six songs that feel cohesive and complete. Now joined by drummer Paul Krolian, previously of Expert Alterations, I’m looking forward to hearing what this band will write and record in the future!
The Corduroy EP shows exactly what can happen when a group of talented musicians and writers gathers together: magic. If you’re looking to scratch the itch for jangly guitars, catchy melodies, and a little bit of heartbreak, look no further than this fantastic EP from Baltimore’s Corduroy!