Thursday, March 12, 2020

Little King releases Occam’s Foil (EP)

Occam’s Foil from Southeastern based power trio Little King is your antidote to the bland paint by numbers rock prevalent in a moribund genre and has a level of ambition surprising for an EP release. The short form release is often an early teaser for full album releases to come but this five song collection is obviously a complete work built with a certain amount of thematic scaffolding yet is never outright conceptual. 

The band, led by singer/songwriter and guitar Ryan Rosoff, is a mainstay of the El Paso music scene since the late 20 th century and has seen members come and go, but Rosoff sounds like he has discovered the ideal configuration for taking the band into the future. Drummer Eddy Garcia is a longtime collaborator and Delaware friend Manny Tejeda completes the trio on bass. It is easy to imagine, listening to this release, the sort of power they pack in a live setting. The production is crisp and balanced between the three, but Rosoff obviously leads the way in some respects. They take some genuine musical chances over the course of these five songs further distinguishing them from their peers and contemporaries that are far from mere window dressing. 

“Hate Counter” sets a tone. This all out blast of musical wrath against building a wall between the United States and Mexico and putting children in jail cells has an almost bulldozer effect at first with Rosoff’s juggernaut riffing, but the band soon takes listeners through a variety of hairpin musical curves with breathtaking skill. This is no ordinary rock band. Rosoff’s vocal embodies all of the visceral anger thinking individuals feel at the song’s subject matter without ever succumbing to histrionics. 

They take a chance with the track “The Skin That I’m In” inviting violinist Christina Hernandez to contribute to the performance and her classical chops isn’t just meaningless tinsel added to the performance. Instead, she adds another layer to an already fine arrangement further demonstrating the band’s unusual compositional approach and Rosoff’s songwriting skill. Alternating between light and shade is something they do exceptionally well. 

“The Foil” will impress many, though some many find its finger pointing at society a little predictable. The musical identity of the song, nevertheless, has immense creativity and the arrangement will never cease to surprise you. Despite the finger pointing, it is Rosoff’s best moment on the EP as a lyricist as he throws in a number of devastating lines cutting through the arrangement and capturing listeners’ attention. If the EP has a title track, this is it. “Nerve 8” is another instance showing the band is at home on the stairway of surprise as they conclude the EP with a hard hitting instrumental track. Like the opener “Hate Counter”, “Nerve 8” twists and turns through a number of ear and eye popping changes without ever hitting a single clichéd note. 

Little King’s Occam’s Foil covers a tremendous amount of musical territory over the course of five songs and reveals this band is cut from a different cloth than most.

Joshua Beach

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