For being named after the world’s most famous blocks of stone, the guys in Easter Island are surprisingly nimble.
There’s the requisite hard-pounding rock, for sure (essential for a group literally named after rocks), but the greatness of their new EP “Easter Island,” is found in the fleetness of foot of a band well-honed after years on the bar circuit.
“Really good bands are able to re-create that feel in the studio,” said Reese Hoeg, bass player and one of two singers and songwriters in Easter Island, along with guitarist Neal Hibala. Drummer Nate Friskorn rounds out the trio.
The six-song EP is made up of the group’s core setlist, refined over the last several years frequenting Missoula bars and rock clubs, supporting on KBGA Endofthon shows and Freecycles bills.
It was recorded, essentially, live-to-tape in Missoula’s Levitation Recording & Tapes. Producer Jake Chadwell helped Easter Island add some rhythm guitar and vocal overdubs. The tracks were laid down in one day.
“That was pretty much it,” Hoeg said. “I think we set a record.”
The six songs reflect a band in tight motion, each song with tempo changes and solo sections that sound jammy and improvised, but Hoeg assured were carefully considered.
Album highlight “Lawnmower,” combines three or four different chugging riffs, never letting up as Hibala easily swings from one vine to the next.
Similar sounds are found on closer “Lava Lamp,” an extended outro of jamming that slides into a half-tempo pocket before giving each band member the room to stretch out and show their stuff. The track feels celebratory, fun and flaunting, the sweaty, moshy dance song to end the night.
Hoeg’s fuzz bass lays down a walking rhythm in “Let’s Die,” the kind of slow-mo headbanger that counts as the ballad on this type of record. Hibala, fittingly, rises up out of the post-chorus morass with a beautiful guitar solo.
“Old Fashioned” pulls some nu-metal influences from Hoeg’s teenage years, the almost-rapped verses giving way to an ending chant that gives one the potent recipe for the Easter Island Old Fashioned: “Blood orange juice/black velvet whiskey/cherry cyanide.”
Hoeg and Hibala split the album’s songwriting credits, each pulling a bit from their own wells of influence, with standard bearers like Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and the Pixies providing the foundation. There might be a bit of Tool influence (Hibala) or, as mentioned, bits and pieces that sound a bit like Slipknot or Korn, or even Interpol (Hoeg).
What it all turns into is a record that can stay in the car CD player for months, soundtracking windows-down spring drives or ski road trips with equal ease; who isn’t down for a fuzz-powered party?
The EP marks a singular point in Easter Island’s life, Hoeg said. The group knew they wanted these songs (as well as an additional seven tunes tracked in the fall, to be released) on tape, before taking stock.
“If we wanted to retool the band we could,” Hoeg said, “but all that stuff would be immortalized.”
In other words, set in stone.