Name Change, the Western Massachusetts collective who are quickly becoming a GSC family favorite, released a Soundcloud exclusive B-Sides and Demos EP, The Early Days EP, late last week. The Early Days features a handful of b-sides and rough drafts of songs that the group believes in but never found a practical use for. It is an interesting snapshot of a group of musicians just trying to figure it out, with songs featuring as many as five members of the collective throwing paint at the wall and seeing what sticks. And, remarkably, a good amount of that paint sticks! While the tracks are generally short and fragmented there are still plenty of interesting bits and pieces here that you could imagine getting worked into something greater, though they are certainly worth their salt as they are. Lead man Johnny Gerrard puts you in the moment of creation with the track intros, where he provides a quick commentary on what the gang was up to at the time of recording. They’re cute little anecdotes about what inspired the song, like on closing track Worth It where Johnny talks about working at a summer camp and while a lot of the work was tiresome, the friendships he made along the way made it all worthwhile.
The piece de résistance of the EP has to be Never Thought That I Knew. Johnny again intros the track, this time mentioning that this was probably the first song that the whole group had put together. He talked about how when they were recording the vocals they had a trippy movie in the background and you can just imagine the gang all sitting there seeing if lighting is gonna strike, and does it ever. The song starts with Audriana Cruz crooning, “Never thought that I kneeeeeeew” over a slow thumping drum and bass, as a chorus “oooooo’s” in the background. Audriana sounds absolutely stunning on the track. Her voice is calm, soothing, and yet completely captivating, like a siren trying to lead a wayward sailor to his doom. The thumping beat is tapped out for an electric guitar interlude where Audriana reaches into her upper register to compete for the spotlight with Johnny’s six string, with the drums picking up speed like a tornado. The whole track sounds epic, like it was made specifically for a movie scene right before and during someone getting their comeuppance. I understand why the gang might have felt that it still needed tinkering before committing to a wider release, but I hope they go back to the shop and make that the best version of itself, especially if it is this good as is.
All in all, The Early Days EP is a great little snack pack of tracks from a promising young music group. The commentaries at the beginning of the tracks are a charming way to bring the listener into the creative process and give a little peek behind the curtain. While I can see why some of these cuts were left as demos, none of the tracks were bad and a few are so good they might just be worth the band giving em another shot. Most importantly, if this is what Name Change is leaving on the cutting room floor I cannot wait to see what they have in store next.