Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum return with their second EP ‘The Drawing Room Volume 1’. The duo, known for their distinctive use of the steel-slide and electric guitar, give an almost unavoidable air of atmospheric surf ladened music. The lack of vocals shapes the style – maybe a little unusual in contemporary rock music – and creates the feeling that the album is much older than it is. This does not detract from the charm of Steelism’s music, which has never needed additional narrative, strongly representing surf and blues styles instrumentally, even if it sometimes sounds like the soundtrack to an 80s late night cop-show.
The opening track ‘The Tube’ – admittedly with some opening words from the pre-recorded line announcements – makes travelling on the tube part of the musical experience, rather than something you try to block out. This isn’t peculiar to the first track; each one is something that you can lose yourself to while occasionally tuning in for the next riff or drop. This is part of the album’s unmistakable pattern, where each track opens with a simple – yet intriguing – repeated riff that fades into obscurity to become almost ambient, before the jam session that guides you to the end of the track. This same shape is found over the album’s five tracks, with the most intense tracks being in the middle, and the finale winding down for an easy landing at the end.
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This EP’S greatest success is that ability to tell ‘the story without words’, although its versatility is its selling point; there are so many times and places that Fetzer and Cullum would be just what you want to listen to.