Mingle and Calibrate
Break Up the Band
Charleston's Mingle and Calibrate seem like a patient band; they waited until they had a tangible piece of rock before making an onstage debut last week at the Tin Roof. And they obviously put considerable time, effort, and heart into their new EP, ominously titled Break Up the Band.
Bassist/singer Chris Holsomback and guitarist/singer Dustin Fanning — both formerly of Charleston indie-rock band 351 Cleveland — joined forces with drummer Trevor Van Etten (previously of My Demise) earlier this year to form the trio. They recorded their no-frills five-song debut at Ocean Industries with engineer Eric Rickert at the helm. Initially, Fanning and company sound agitated and anxious. There's nothing too experimental going on here; it's steeped in the traditions of American indie rock for sure. But it's not wobbly or hesitant, either. After a few spins, the beauty of the songs begins to shine through the noisiness.
Kicking off the five-song mini-album is the melodic title track, tapping along at a head-nodding tempo with a loose and cool swagger. Fanning's jangly guitar work chimes and drones in the background from verse to verse, while the rhythm section slaps and rolls through some classic power-pop fills and transitions. Van Etten's loose style resembles some of Keith Moon's more fluid work on early Who records, only tighter and less hectic. Holsomback's harmonic bass lines push the song handsomely, adding a regal element to an otherwise shouty indie-pop track.
Slower and more anthemic, "Keeping You Close" sounds like late-era Guided by Voices (by way of late-era Cheap Trick), replete with big harmonies and a very brief wah-wah-distorto guitar. With a more confident and convincingly emotional vocal delivery, the minor-key pop-rocker "Miss Eventually" is a strong heartbreaker gem. Fanning sounds genuinely disillusioned and forlorn about the lady who let him down — and his George Harrison-style solo fits perfectly.
On "Off My Street," the most menacing tune in the bunch, the main riffs crinkle and bend with more than a few slightly dissonant chords. Fanning and Holsomback's harmonies either parallel each other nicely or awkwardly complement each other with hollered counterparts. The Byrds-like intro of "Radar Proof" — an elegant piece of guitar-pop about an elusive crush — foreshadows a happier conclusion to Break Up the Band. Hopefully, Mingle and Calibrate will avoid a breakup long enough to crank out some more.