The abundance of lengthy EP reviews on Treble has begun to wear on me. It seems that half the time, we’re spending twice as much time writing or reading about a particular extended play as the actual duration of the record. I mean, that three-song Iron & Wine thing was a little self-indulgent, wasn’t it? It gets to be overkill and there are lots of singles out there without the b-side weight to warrant 400 words. But as soon as I was beginning to get overly picky about this situation, I heard Heaven and Hell, the newest release by the Minus Story, a six-song release with 21 minutes of brilliant, beautiful and youthful joy. Like a psychedelic marriage of Elephant Six and The Flaming Lips, Minus Story have created a psychedelic and bizarre sound that’s somehow immediately accessible and fun.
The title track is the opening song and main attraction here, a dreamy Rhodes and slide-driven song that combines the joyous with the sad, as the titular locales might hint at. It’s an instrumentally dense and gorgeous song, only to be followed by several more. “Time Wastes Itself” is fuzzier, but more ethereal, as whirring organs create a wispy background atmosphere underneath the parallel melodies of Jordan Geiger’s voice and Andy Byers’ xylophone. “Suffer by Yourself” is more of a folk-rock waltz, as tremolo-treated guitars chime beneath a rootsy harmonica lead. It’s a more straightforward track than the first two, but awesome all the same. “Misery is a Ship” stretches almost into six minutes, a quieter ballad that builds and layers into a larger, more epic track with all kinds of odd instrumentation that would make Tom Waits proud.
And then there’s “Hybrid Moments.” Yes, that “Hybrid Moments.” But you’d hardly recognize this as a Misfits cover. Minus Story add their own brand of strange, childlike psychedelia to the song, creating what would almost sound like their own original composition. I’m sort of curious as to what Danzig would think, had he heard it. Regardless, they pull it off much better than anyone could possibly have expected them to.
The EP ends with a “hidden” bonus track of mostly people speaking, but honestly, I didn’t really pay that much attention, merely because I wanted to go back and listen to the actual music. I mean, that is why you would buy the record in the first place, right? And so it seems I’ve spent another four-hundred words on twenty minutes of music. But Heaven and Hell is just too good for me to care.
Flaming Lips – Clouds Taste Metallic
Elf Power – The Winter is Coming
Olivia Tremor Control – Dusk at Cubist Castle
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.