Indiana’s Early Day Miners have quietly but consistently maintained a steady career of dreamy, spacious Americana, spinning a dark, rural-influenced type of songwriting into slow, psychedelic territory. Yet in 2010, the future of the band looked uncertain. Frontman Daniel Burton responded to a Wikipedia entry about the band’s as-of-yet unconfirmed dissolution, noting that shows were canceled due to the financial burden, though he stopped short of saying the band was over. That was a year ago, and in the time since that uncertainty, Burton has revamped the project, starting somewhat fresh by shortening the name to EDM and issuing new album Night People on Western Vinyl, the label that released the group’s first album, Placer Found, before they made the long-term move to Secretly Canadian.
As he first album by EDM, or the first new Early Day Miners release in two years, depending upon how you look at it, Night People is a strong addition to the catalog, standing firm to the group’s tradition of softly psychedelic balladry and gently noisy dream pop. Yet Burton sharpens his hooks a bit more, honing in on a pop songwriting style that’s always been apparent in the band’s work, but seems a bit brighter and more pronounced this time around. Burton swirls up a cloud of dust on the punk-tinged American goth of “Terrestrial Rooms,” his croons of “the earth on my skin” and “the rain on my face” sounding oddly sinister under the Bad Seeds-esque post-punk cacophony.
Opening track “Hold Me Down” stands as one of Burton’s most immediate tracks, beginning with a serene jangle and gradually transitioning into a more hard-driving indie rocker. Yet “Stereo/Video” gets right to the groove without delay, riding a throbbing new wave bassline while the blissful riffs of a clean-toned guitar glide overhead. It’s a thing of simple and head-nodding beauty, made a bit more sinister with Burton’s refrains of “I hear voices on the stereo/ I see faces on the video.”
At their heart, though, EDM remain a subtly seductive creature, primarily creating an alluring atmosphere through gentle tones and hazy grooves, from the rustic twang of “Open Bar,” to the ethereal drift of “How to Fall” and the starkly distorted “Bright Angels.” Yet whether the band is putting all their weight into a raucous number like “Terrestrial Rooms” or blissing out to “How to Fall,” the end result is essentially the same: uncompromisingly beautiful songwriting, unfussed but carefully crafted and thoroughly stunning, whether the band is a longtime favorite or a first-time listen.
Calla – Collisions
The National – Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers
Seam – Are You Driving Me Crazy
Stream: EDM – “Stereo/Video”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.