This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.
Quarantine jams should not be slow and gloomy, they should be lively and upbeat, like Cities in the Sky’s debut EP, Wasted Words. The Denver band boasts Sequoia Greene on vocals, Alex Pockrus on lead guitar and vocals, Miles Stephens on bass, James Medina on drums and David James on guitar and vocals.
The new five-track EP Wasted Words is a bold introduction to the world, and the release does wonders showcasing each of the member’s talents. With lengthy guitar riffs and belting vocals, it is hard to pinpoint a singular strongpoint, but perhaps a release as such shows us that the spotlight can shine all over a room. “The creation of Wasted Words was everyone’s first time recording a multiple track project in a studio,” cites vocalist Sequoia Greene. “It was a bit challenging at first with conflicting concepts and direction. We were used to playing off of each other’s energy when practicing or playing live, so it was a new experience to take single track takes and layer the parts.”
Wasted Words kicks off strong with the slow strums of “Hussy,” a sassy voyage through a time machine. The song ushers the listener to a jazz-influenced back room of haze and fringe-sequined dresses and with a funky paced bassline and sensual lyrics. “Dr. Funky Munk E. Chunky M.D.,” serves as the EP’s first true banger, taking us on a ride through a story that is even funkier than the name of the track. Greene’s vocals are bare, as the lyrics say, with nothing left to hide over the riveting, building rift from Pockrus and James. The song takes a dive into a deep-sea jam before finishing out at over five minutes.
“Wake Up” takes a break from the funkier sides and focuses more on the rock, premiering an edge that had remained undercover before. The story of the lyrics dips darker too, allowing the energy to balance from the rowdier early songs. “Cigarettes and Gasoline” lightens up again, existing more like a duet of frustration and tension over a peppy and head-bobbing worthy beat. Lyrics like “No one ever wants to hear you talking about yourself / I sit and listen to you” paint a picture of the miscommunication, something we can all call on personal experience to relate.
“Break the Knot” closes out the listing, as the longest track on the EP and the most eager to show off the individualism on Wasted Words. The opening notes are slow and restless, allowing Greene’s voice to lead the sound until the breakdown when the band unites to rage like a cult over an open flame.“Break the Knot” is our favorite song to play because we all get really hyped about the musicality and dynamic structure,” explains Greene. The concluding song is the heavy blanket to tuck in the experience of Wasted Words for the evening, giving a distinct encore-feeling to the EP.
Cities in the Sky is a great option for all of us looking for new local sounds to wash down the news of each day. Wasted Words is a strong debut for a groovy group that will have no trouble getting the crowd moving as soon as they are able to play to one.