Pennsylvania heavy rockers Backwoods Payback will release their new EP, In the Ditch, this coming Friday, Feb. 21. Usually when I post something about the band, it’s a list of tour dates. They’ve put in some regular road time before and since the release of their 2011 Small Stone debut, Momantha (review here), and an early-2013 live album (discussed here) kept momentum going around touring on the West Coast, various festival appearances, etc. In the Ditch, though, is the four-piece’s first studio outing since Momantha, and it’s even more of a follow-up than one might initially think. The six-track, 28-minute EP — they’re reportedly pressing a limited number of physical copies for a release show Friday night with Buzzard Wagon and Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies at Shore Road Tavern in Philly — was put to tape in late 2011/early 2012, so while it’s newly mixed and mastered, In the Ditch is about as direct a companion piece timing-wise for Momantha as one could ask.
As its title hints, In the Ditch is a hard-times release, and there’s a core of raw honesty that underscores the songwriting across its tracks, whether it’s “On the Chain” asking “What’s the point of leaving if you didn’t need me to stay?” or the frustrations of closer “Buffalo Nickel.” Guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings‘ vocals are front and center, presented largely void of effects, and while In the Ditch is short, it efficiently demonstrates a range on the part of Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker, guitarist Rylan Caspar and drummer W.S. Curtiss that finds them no less at home in the sludgy lumber of “Fooled You” than the swaggering grunge of “The Village.” The EP hits its stride with “Always Something,” the third of the six cuts and sort of the emotional summary of where Backwoods Payback are coming from on the release. Over acoustic and electric guitars, Cummings recounts with effectively conveyed resignation the personal loss that seems to be at the heart of In the Ditch. The tone isn’t overly sentimental, but there’s a sense of redemption in the second half of “Always Something” that gives the remainder of the EP a more hopeful context.
The recording itself, engineered by Mike Bardzik at Noisy Little Critter Studio in the band’s native West Chester, PA, is bare-bones but more than clear enough to get a feel for the material, and flourishes like the acoustics in “Always Something” — also a bit of Alice in Chains‘ “I Stay Away” seems to show up around the 2:20 mark — the background shouts in opener “On the Chain” and the harmonies in “The Village” lend sonic depth and variety alike, but again, the crux of In the Ditch is the sincerity with which the tracks are presented, and that comes through superbly no matter how many layers are at work at any given point.
Please find In the Ditch in its entirety on the player below, followed by some commentary from the band, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Backwoods Payback are now taking preorders for In the Ditch at their Bandcamp page, and will release the EP this Friday at Shore Road Tavern in Philadelphia, PA. Here’s what they have to say about it:
(to start at the beginning would take too long. you wouldn’t want to hear about most of it anyway.)
we were having one of those kind of lives.
the kind where you almost run out of gas, but the tank is full enough to get you where you want. and that road gets winding, but every now and again there’s those stretches. those beautiful perfect stretches. and you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or going down, but you know you’re right in the middle of it either way.
it was one of those kind of lives. and then the bottom fell out. and then when you didn’t think the bottom could fall out anymore, it fell out again.
you never really look at the clouds the same after that. they’re not floating anymore. they’re just kind of there.
you’re just kind of there.