| Waking Ashland joined my list of favorite bands about one and a half years ago, when I first heard their I Am For You EP. I loved their full-length follow-up, Composure, which featured some great new songs as well as a few from I Am For You that had been touched up a bit. Recently, however, bassist Andrew Grosse and drummer Thomas Lee left the band, leaving only vocalist/keyboardist Jonathan Jones and guitarist and fellow vocalist Ryan Lallier. For a while, the two did an acoustic tour, switched from Tooth & Nail Records to Immortal, then rested for a while to work on their latest project, released last month: the Telescopes EP.
Kelpie�s Nathan Edward Harold does bass on the record, and Joe Greenetz from Sherwood (whom Waking Ashland have toured with several times) drums. There�s no doubt that the two guest musicians are considerably skilled, but you can really hear the effect that the lack of whole-band-ness has on the resulting music. Taken by itself as a record, Telescopes is great--Jonathan�s lyrics are lovely, and delivered passionately through his rock-out-lullaby voice; and the combination of his keyboard skills and Ryan�s guitar is fantastic. When you realize, though, that this is a record from two of the guys who brought you Composure and I Am For You, Telescopes doesn�t seem that golden anymore. It doesn�t have the magnitude of "I Am For You (Don�t Give Up)," the sharp essence of autumn that "October Skies" embodies, or the quiet power of "Hands on Deck" (the demo version was just... wow).
If you�re a hardcore Waking Ashland fan and you�re expected to be blown away by Telescopes the same way you were when you heard your first WA song, you have a quite a bit of disappointment coming your way. You�ll find yourself aching for the raw brilliance of the band�s earlier work. Waking Ashland will always be one of my favorite bands, but this record hasn�t been much help in raising them to my #1 spot.
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