Seemingly appearing out of the woodwork, Blue Sky Miners has in fact been working on this self-titled debut EP since 2013; carefully selecting a producer—Todor Kobakov—and fine-tuning their lyrics as well as meticulously crafting their sound into self-described 'Rocky Mountain Desert Rock' end result. The sound of their music is something of a question mark: Twangy and guitar-laden, it evokes a sense of mid-America, however their raw vocal style and simple lyrics root the album in its entirety somewhere in the South. Think of it as a mix between Edward Sharpe, Of Monsters and Men, and The Lumineers, but without the same conviction.
Opening with, “Cold Water,” the British Columbia-based band nudges the listener to reflect on aspects of the world they don’t even know exist or even think about very much at all: “There’s water under the ground / Dig deeper to hear the sound.” Ultimately, this proves to be one of the more intriguing lines in not only a dull song, but unfortunately a rather unconvincing or even uninspiring EP. The second track, “Are You Lost,” is immediately more arresting; but only in the same way that a 10-hour flight isn’t as gruelling as a 16-hour flight. It lacks any sort of punchiness, but also doesn’t hold the thematic or musical merit for its perceived lengthiness. The songs here outstay their welcome, and on an album consisting of a mere six tracks, it’s not a good sign.
Interestingly, the second half of the album is more varied and thus better than the first. Here, the melodies hold more nuance within them; the lyrics are more intimate; and the instrumental layering and entire production actually reflect the changing lyrical themes far more accurately than the first three songs. It’s even possible to go as far as comparing standout track, “Six Feet Small,” with the most recent material released by Arcade Fire’s re-issue of Reflektor (2013).
Still, by the time the last track, “Riot,” rolls around, you wonder what you’ve gained by listening to it all; and unfortunately the answer is not much at all. While they seemingly draw influences from a multitude of genres and other artists, ultimately they fail to carve out a unique sound where they can fully let loose and operate. The vocals, admittedly, improve even over the course of the album (see fourth song, “Bones”), therefore it’ll be interesting to see the band’s growth if they move to recording a full-length album. As it stands, though, Blue Sky Miners EP neither evokes nor alludes to any emotion: It remains a whole lot of dust being kicked up but not much movement.
“Bones” and “Six Feet Small”
“There’s water under the ground / Dig deeper to hear the sound.”
A jumbled combination of The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros