Not your average badass college rockers, Austin’s The Cover Letter have the distinction of being one of USA’s Hot 100 Unsigned Bands according to Music Connection Magazine and tireless Texans in the gigging stakes to boot. What is a bit of a mystery is that Cities Made Of Sand is their second EP and they have yet to produce an album. They’ll have their reasons of course but for a collective of such pure energy as this bunch then it strikes an odd note that a full-length offering is yet to hit the shelves.
What we do have is a half dozen well structured, original tracks made special by a chemistry with it’s foundations laid in the best music scene around and cemented in the best parties (keep Austin weird). Somethings sets the tone with it’s high octane rhythms and we are introduced to the stand-out feature of this team – you might say it’s star striker partnership – in Jacob Shipman and Chelsea Barbo, who continue to be a highlight throughout exchanging vocal licks and harmony arrangements in classic high school prom style, like Grease but cool. The band are more interested in sharing the instrumental duties around than in sticking to just one tool of the trade, for example drummer Trevor Van Stanfield also plays lead guitar. This approach creates a laid back mood which shines through in the music. In My Soul has a tambourine bashing, harmonica grinding good time feeling while the vocals continue to trade-off to winning effect.
Pale Shadow emphasises the mellow feeling despite the occasional heavy rock passage which breaks out of the prevalent chill out zone, but The Cover Letter sound dynamic where others would sound inconsistent. Josephine is the jewel in the crown, Shipman and Barbo at their most effective, working their magic over sugar-coated acoustic guitar while grungy power chords bide their time. Risky Moonshine is the exception here, exactly what it says on the tin, a David Allen Coe moment, disgracefully, unashamedly loud and country while Lullaby is the EP closer, a foot stomping singalong yet with a somehow soothing edge. Which kind of sums things up really. The Cover Letter are on a mission to be as unpredictable as they can possibly be. Somehow they manage to be uncannily bipolar, two for the price of one, raw but seductive. It works because they make what they do sound effortless.
A double-barrelled vocal assault backed up by soaring instrumental beatnik mood swings