With a list of influences all across indie, rock and Americana, Toliesel defy their quintessential Oxford backdrop for a sound much more worldly, and listening to their debut EP Contours, that is very much a good thing.
The 4 tracks comprising the EP are spread across just 16 minutes so your attention is keenly held. Opening with Whispered Half Asleep with its epic jangling guitar and searing vocal lines, the statement of musical intent is made, and with its intriguing tale of doubt in love (‘it could all be gone’ implores frontman Jack Olchawski), it’s a song which should resonate with a mass audience.
However it’s in the middle of this record with The Light followed by Lighthouse where it all really takes off. Gentle guitar lines soaked in plenty of characterful chorus and reverb add a real weight to the stories portrayed, and significantly make you want to be there at the cave Toliesel sing about on The Light.
Lighthouse is probably the best tune of the four, and carries most of their Neil Young influences. Indeed looking at the likes of their influences you can hear just how much the band want to emulate the songwriting prowess of the likes of Young and Crosby, Stills & Nash. And that is the real success of this EP, it all seems fairly anonymous, and there are no stand out performances by individual members: it is all about the song. Percussive flourishes throughout prove just how considered the songwriting is without sounding unnatural.
Relatively unknown outside of their Oxford upbringing, Contours should hopefully see the band gain a bigger following, especially for a band who are putting the art of true musicianship and song craft first, they are deserving of success. All eyes and ears will be on a full length release to see if they can maintain the momentum, but as a stand-alone EP this is very, very promising.