In the modern musical landscape, development is an extremely vulnerable activity. Bandcamp pages can now turn even the most rudimentary recording into a proper release, able to be heard by anyone with an Internet connection and speakers. MP3 blogs itch to be first to describe The Next Big Thing thusly. Combined with the degeneration of long-term, big-stakes artist maturation programs by major labels, such conditions place a premium on how good a band is now, not how good a band might get. But the situation needn't be so intimidating. That is, if everyone is releasing everything anyway, why not follow suit and see if someone pays attention?
That's how the last year or so how has felt with the Carrboro quintet T0W3RS, a bright-eyed pop act that emerged last year with little more to share than an inviting and inventive cover of another local band's trademark tune. In the past 16 months, they've not only gigged constantly but also released an EP and a full-length. Both felt like small and earnest floods of ideas and enthusiasms, presenting collections of enjoyable moments rather than a consistent and completely considered album. Excitingly exhibitionist, T0W3RS have used releases as public dress rehearsals.
But Wyatt, a new EP that collects the band's cuts from a series of five cassette singles split with other bands and released last month, seems to mark a turning point for T0W3RS. In 20 minutes, they offer and land five songs of bombast and ingenuity, condensing those once-wide impulses into a set that feels, for the first time, not only fresh but focused. "Bounty" pushes cascading harmonies above an infectious bounce, while "Ours" pairs both Panda Bear's sequencer zeal and vocal ticks with an appreciable directness. The six-minute centerpiece, "Draw? Fold," moves from a Pink Floyd-sized instrumental sunset to a pensive and tidal country trot. It's the kind of song that, on previous T0W3RS releases, might have fallen into several transition-less fits. But here, T0W3RS invest in the long game; the reward is perhaps the most ambitious and intricate song of the band's short career. It's once again proof that Derek Torres and the band of pals he recruited on a whim last year are just starting to find their promise. If you still believe in such alchemy in 2012, they're developing, and we get to listen in.
Label: DiggUp Tapes