Released: 24th November 2011
TL;DR: Every song has a story, I like that. 7/10
Mazes is certainly a band that knows how to keep their fans’ collective appetite wet. The start of the year saw the release of debut album A Thousand Heys, an album that was pretty good with a good mixture of low-fi roughness with accessible riffs. This was soon followed by the release of IBB Tape, a 12” collection of demos, live jams, covers and musings which documented certain events of Mazes’ early life.
But release number three sees frontman Jack Cooper take to the stage with LP Art Is Cheap, a collection of songs written by Cooper after being sourced it’s message from willing-to-pay fans. All it took was £10 and a choice of lyric, title or an idea for Jack to record an impressively individual sounding track. All fans of Mazes should be digging this immediately considering the close similarities in sound this LP has, complete with low-fi tones of course. It’s a very interesting record, full of great riffs and showcases Jack Cooper’s talent as a songwriter, which must be quite a lot considering this project started in the summer.
We begin with Johnny Says I’m A Witch, a track that while enjoyable, acts as a great sedative for any nervous Mazes fan who was thinking Cooper was going to introduce a completely clean, poppier genre to his repertoire. The summery guitar adds a lot of happiness to the otherwise dark connotations of the title, and overall it’s just a solid opener.
A lack of real variation is noticeable, especially after listening to the LP a couple of times. There are a lot of riffs used here no doubt about it, but the drum beats do sound pretty similar if not the same in a lot of the tracks featured. While tracks like What Does Fanfarlo Mean? Change the style of drums; it does have the same tempo as others, which slightly diminishes the effort to change things up.
The stories behind these songs are what makes Art Is Cheap such a charming record. The way in which Cooper details how exactly he got thinking about a riff, or progression of a track after hearing an often eccentric idea given away by regular Joe truly displays how talented Cooper is as a songwriter, which makes me excited to hear material from him when he has the budget to record in a proper studio. But for now, I am content with listening to Art Is Cheap until then.
Read about the stories behind these songs here – www.artischeap.tumblr.com and listen to the record for free here - http://jackcoopermazes.bandcamp.com/