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.
        Kelpieís Nathan Edward Harold does bass on the record, and Joe Greenetz from Sherwood (whom Waking Ashland have toured with several times) drums. Thereís 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--Jonathanís lyrics are lovely, and delivered passionately through his rock-out-lullaby voice; and the combination of his keyboard skills and Ryanís 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 doesnít seem that golden anymore. It doesnít have the magnitude of "I Am For You (Donít 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 youíre a hardcore Waking Ashland fan and youíre 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. Youíll find yourself aching for the raw brilliance of the bandís earlier work. Waking Ashland will always be one of my favorite bands, but this record hasnít been much help in raising them to my #1 spot.
A.A. '06
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