Out of Athens, GA, a city that’s produced many great musicians in the past, comes yet another band whose music is definitely well-worth a listen. Efren, whose new EP was released this past August, pleases from the second you press play. Always Been A Bleeder is a seamless combination of influences: some tracks vibrate with psychedelic and fairly experimental folk while others have distinct country and rock roots.
As a five-track release, the music is alternatively celebratory and brooding, the first four tracks consistently switching between jaunty folk rock romps (“Potholes”) and dwelling, reflective tracks (“Next Tuesday”). “Rapids,” the closing track, follows the tradition of sounding more like something experimental that the band enjoyed recording instead of a polished track. It’s a nine-minute outlier that starts with chaotic and dissonant mixture of guitar plucks, twangs, wails and warbles, bells, and the occasional cymbal crash until two minutes in, Scott Leon O’Day’s dry voice joins in and the song metamorphoses into something gentler and more melodic. While Always Been A Bleeder clearly has the influence of older folk, their music is also distinctly contemporary. At times they sound like a more youthful and energized Tallest Man On Earth, and as advertised by the band, many of the tracks should be well-received by fans of Iron & Wine (particularly if you enjoyed Beam’s sound on The Shepard’s Dog).
The vocals are, in the tradition of many folk-singers past and present, dry and raspy, often more mumbles than articulate words, but they never grate. Lyrically, Efren stays introspective while avoiding self-indulgence, which leaves their music more free-spirited than heavy. Track for track, they engage from the get-go, and their sound only grows more and more enjoyable with each succeeding listen. While none of the tracks stand out as singles, Always Been A Bleeder lays down an outstanding outline for a future LP.
September 15th, 2010 by Emily Graham