The Consolation of Pianissimo 
Artist: Dear Ephesus 
Label: Bulletproof 
 

I had no idea what to expect with this disc, and as the sloppy distortion of the first track filled my headphones my hopes dropped.  "Great," I thought, "another talentless 'alternative' band that thinks just because it knows a few chords...."  But oh, how quickly was I proved wrong! Strains of melody crept in and then took over, mellow clean-tone guitars sang in sweet contrast to more aggro rhythm guitars.  Then on the second track, "Behind Doors," the vocalist really began to show his stuff, giving off passionate vibes reminiscent of Bono of U2. 
 
Sections of this song remind me a little of The Choir also, until the bands kicks into a frantic electric groove in the latter half.  From there they move on to "Butter Never Bleeds," a fast tune churning with Smashing Pumpkins-like rage, complete with a great sing-along chorus.
 
The album continues on with this trend of blending mellowness with aggression, every song infused with the vocalist's varied emotions.  The song dynamics are really superb, the musical tone coinciding with the lyrics, each song exploring several moods.  I love the creative drumming, as full of personality and style as Jesse Sprinkle's poundings for the late lamented Poor Old Lu.  The plaintive clean-tone guitars and exploratory bass-playing (usually mixed in behind the scenes) is great,  but for me mostly serves to enhance the meaty buzz and crunch of the rhythm guitars when they eventually explode onto the scene.  Right on. This is a band that knows what it's doing, purposefully crafting each part of each song, and possessing the musical talent to pull it off in a big way.
 
Lyrically, you won't find any lapse in quality.  I'm not much of a lyrics reader usually, and it would have been easy for me to skip over Dear Ephesus's poetic, sometimes difficult to understand, lines.  The last two listed songs in particular, however, caught my attention and really impressed me with their metaphorical depictions of spiritual reality. "The Flight of Peter Pan" compares life without Christ to being in Never Never Land: 

    Fly with the lost boys that's what I say
    rule by your own way that's how we play
    gee peter pan I'm really glad to meet you
    but I can't be a man here in never never land
    all day flying in circles not much to speak of
 By the end of the song, the narrator sees the truth:
 
    I never meant to spend years in your silly world
    I've been ignorant living in a fairy tale
    but there's no fantasy when I call out your name
    only reality Jesus the same 
Next is "The Drifter," a cool tune with a fresh look at Christ:
    A drifter to most folks
    but some could see he was wise
    no beggar was this man
    he said he came to give life
    oh in a circus show they might have let it slide
    but now they give him threats
    they say he'll have to die
    oh this travelin' man all he ever wanted was a bride
 Sung with restrained, whispery vocals and accompanied by mournful guitars and echoing drums, I think this is my favorite track on the album.
 
The CD booklet has Revelation 2:2-7 printed inside (which explains where the band's name comes from), the words of Christ to the church at Ephesus, about how he knows of their works and endurance for his sake but that they've left behind their original love for him, and how they need to repent.  I interpreted this as a message that perhaps the American church needs to hear as well.  Pretty cool. 
 
If you're wise enough to get this album, make sure you don't miss the two hidden tracks at the end (making for a total of 14 songs on the album), especially the last one.  It's a sloppy garage tune with lyrics "We're going to rock the heck out of you, if there's one thing we came to do, we're going to rock the stuff out of you."  I think maybe it's an inside joke tune for some friends of theirs, but I thought it was a refreshing contrast to the prevailing sadness and seriousness of the rest of the album (which eventually did get tiresome).
 
After listening to Dear Ephesus's full length debut many times, I've realized that it is the first emo-core album I have really liked.  I haven't been able to get into this style of indie alternative rock before, but this one does the trick for me--mixing and matching style and substance with folks like Jeremy Enigk/Sunny Day Real Estate, Kevin Clay/My Little Dog China, Four Living Creatures/Sweet Nectar, Smashing Pumpkins, Luxury, Roadside Monument, Joe Christmas (maybe), Pedro the Lion, etc.--producing something unique that captures the best of that genre's aggression, beauty, power, melody, poetry, pain, and emotion. This is a complete package.-----Josh Spencer 
 
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Aaron Widederspahn says that, "Everything I write is allegorical or metaphorical.  There is always a message of salvation there, but you have to think about it to see it." The Consolation of Pianissimo will give you plenty of food for thought in the smooth moments between the distorted guitars. This album, like most emo, is characterized by more varied or complicated instrumentation than normal hardcore or punk and having emotional lyrics, the themes here are primarily about the relationship between God and man. I had some difficulty warming up to some of the quieter songs as Widederspahn's vocals seemed to work better on the heavier tunes.  Fans of other emo-bands, particularly Sunny Day Real Estate, Roadside Monument, Blenderhead, and Damian Jurado should enjoy this release.-----Shari Lloyd  
 
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We don't have many bands like this in the UK.  Alternative rock here is still suffering under the weight of brit-pop and brit-rock sounds, and for anything more "alternative" you have to turn to the upsurge of metal bands in the underground.  With this album we get passionate vocals, interesting guitar lines, and lots of distortion -- I'm told they call it emo. 

Lyrically and musically this album has a dark feel, but struggles are accompanied by hope ("all the while there's a symphony on the music box/ as I sit behind the keys of my player piano I cry/and in a while face a man behind a child/and suddenly it hits me you're with me/I care" from "Player Piano").  I can't make up my mind as to which track is my favourite, but "The Flight of Peter Pan" sticks with me for its many meanings hidden within (J. M. Barrie fans might take exception of course), and I enjoyed the more laidback but still passionate "Player Piano" (quoted above). 

For me, this album was a refreshing change, and I look forward to hearing more from the band.-----James Stewart 

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