February 23, 2003  
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No-Shadow Kick, Promo EP, 2001 No-Shadow Kick
Promo EP
Self-released, 2001

Northampton, Massachusetts band No Shadow-Kick's holiday six-song promotional EP is a short but diverse introduction to the band's style. The opening track "In the Snow", the only holiday song on the EP, is a holiday song for those unable to always muster up the expected amount of festive spirit. Its power and depth are highly complemented both by lead singer Tom Pappalardo's deep and moody vocals and Elizabeth Street's graceful backing voice on the choruses. The horns add to the subtle yet pervasive sadness buried among the lyrics. The EP's other songs include two new and three old tunes, from the band's 1999 LP, Basement Make-Out Party.

The second song, "Double Nothing", billed as a "song probably about a girl", rocks with the intensity of both loss and the recognition of growth. "Monks Don't Tell Lies", the second new track on the EP, is the band's road song, complete with traffic sounds and Pappalardo's appropriately preoccupied-sounding low-toned vocals. Herein, the road is transformed into a surprisingly spiritual locale, ripe with possibility, illustrating what the band calls the "Mike Watt metaphor of van-as-vessel": "He reads my palm, proclaims me king, drops to his knees, averts his eyes, I stay calm, and say a joke, and he says to me: 'monks don't tell lies'". Shawn Reynolds's background vocals complete the harmony needed to transcend the everyday mundane experiences of life as represented by the road into a series of memorable and beautiful occurrences.

"The BMX Song", from Basement Make-Out Party, is the rare instrumental that rocks, with a swoon-worthy beat that makes it incredibly hard for this listener to sit still. "Scarecrow Waltz" slows the pace down, expressed from the point of view of one who can "no longer discern life's subtle shades". Filled with touching, if a bit simplistic, lyrics, it takes a slow yet determined gait, while the music hypnotizes the listener into empathy with the melancholy tone of the track. The EP's final song, "The Saviour Made Me Do It", is a rocker complemented by powerful yet subdued guitars and is complete with the hilariously pathetic sounds of a televangelist's pleas for more money for his ministry. Very sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek without losing authenticity or credibility, it is the most memorable track on the EP.

As an EP, this one fits together and works quite well. However, the lyrics could use a bit of punching up. Even so, these songs are beautiful seemingly without intending to be, the vocals are powerful and intense and the band can rock and elucidate without seeming either crass or that they are trying too hard. This is most definitely a band to watch—one that can combine indie rock sensibilities with the talent and wit needed to build a steady fan base and achieve sincere success. Pick up this EP, it's worth it.

Miranda Hale
January 2002


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