It’s always exciting going into an album and having absolutely no idea what to expect. So, as I clicked play on the first track of the Nash Smith & Ganges EP, I was a bit caught off guard. The sun shining, the breeze blowing, I found myself in a generally happy mood. Melissa Smith’s vocals calmly introduced me to this newly discovered band on “Hunters,” and Rob Kenagy’s guitar quickly drowned out all the other noise. The song didn’t click with me; I didn’t “get it,” as you might say.

Listen to “California” – DOWNLOAD MP3

I listened through the EP for the first time, and I enjoyed it; Nash Smith & Ganges are a talented trio to say the least — but there was still something missing. The next night, I played “Hunters” again. This time, I was alone, sitting in a dark, crowded bedroom, and the EP took on a different tone altogether. Nash Smith & Ganges’ sound is so dark and brooding that it thrives on this type of situational listening. Smith’s voice echoed like I had not heard upon first listen, and Mark Arcaiga’s arrangements lingered on these six tracks so that the whole album sounded like one long mix.

The EP lends itself to certain atmospheres, and that’s not a bad thing. It shows polish and congruence which few bands have. The closing track, “California,” is a cross between Dr. Dog’s pop sensibility and Joy Division’s mysteriously enjoyable sound. “God damn you California, god damn you L.A./ I’m going back to the Midwest,” sings Kenagy, as cymbals crash and the album comes to a close. It’s a powerful sentiment to close this gorgeous EP on.

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