Moncton trio Tea 4 Three embrace diversity and surpass typical debut expectations with Three Songs.
A new band. A trio. A new EP. Their debut. What’s not to love?
Truth be told, I’m a big fan of debut releases. EPs especially. More often than not, debut EPs embody a certain magic that becomes less and less present as a band grows into what will become their sound. Part innocence, part ambition, debut EPs are more often than not, completely fearless in their approach and delivery. Again, what’s not to love?
There are a few main ways I find out about new releases from New Brunswick musicians. Sometimes (but not often) I receive an email from a band or an artist announcing their new single, or EP, or whatever. This, I appreciate. And sometimes, depending on the band, I catch wind of a forthcoming release from hearing others talk about it. “Heads up everyone. Soandso’s new release drops this Friday and it’s a banger. Etc,”. Other times, and this one has unfortunately become the least common way I hear about a new release (because, well, TIME), I discover things on my own accord by actively looking through Bandcamp. But sometimes none of these methods serve my ears. In the case of Three Songs, the debut EP from Tea 4 Three, news of this exciting new release was simply unavoidable on the day it dropped. Several friends shared it on their social feeds. Everyone was excited. And as it turned out, they had every reason to be excited. It’s a fantastic debut that ties in so much of what I love about debut EPs.
When writing about new releases, I try to avoid taking the song by song approach. I usually prefer to provide some context on the artist, a few details on the release, and a gentle critique. Enough to motivate the reader (hopefully) to want to experience the music in their own way, on their own terms. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But with Three Songs, the magic for me comes from the combination of styles and varying approaches to songwriting and structure the band have shared.
Beginning with an ode to Adam K, Ode the Adam K, is as straight ahead a three chord punk song as any band could write, complete with a hot guitar feedback intro. Just enough squawk to show intent. I assume the Adam in question is the one-time ubiquitous man of every band in Saint John, Adam Keirstead. I could be wrong. But I think I’m right. And given his history as a sound person, bassist, guitarist, recording guy, and general let’s-make-things-happen collaborator, hearing a band sing his phrases only makes sense. I love you too Adam K.
The second song on this EP, Scarlet, drops the tempo significantly. Built around a repetitive melodic phrase that develops slowly over the song’s three and a half minutes, the music is simple and effective and works as an ideal accompaniment to the post-hardcore, screamo vocal delivery that defines this song and stands in clear contrast to the EP’s opener.
The contrast continues as the EP concludes with a rich and heavy dose of dream pop meets shoegaze. Slow Jam drops the tempo even further, cranks the reverb and lets loose a magnificent wall of sound that doubles as the closer to a very diverse debut.
What gets me the most about Three Songs is how the band gets progressively slower with each song. Instead of going out with a bang in the traditional sense, Tea 4 Three do the exact opposite while still succeeding in delivering an impressive climactic peak thanks to their varied approach to songwriting and the increasing depth of each successive song.
Simply put, Three Songs is three songs that hold their own and somehow work together despite the huge range in styles. Which begs several questions. How will they follow this up? What do their other songs sound like? Will future releases be this diverse? They have set a high bar for themselves. Tea 4 Three is a band I’ll be paying close attention to.
Three Songs was released on August 31. Engineered and produced by Kortni Nicols. Mixed and mastered by Corey Bonnevie at Monopolized Records.