Alex Pieschel | Waitin' Around (debut EP)
"Waitin' Around" is the debut EP from solo artist Alex Pieschel who lives in "middle-of-nowhere" (as he puts it) Columbus, Mississippi. Released in May of this year, the songs on this EP were recorded on a four-track cassette tape recorder (except for the digitally recorded title track), mixed by fellow Columbus musicians Max Hartleroad and Miles Jordan of the band Hartle Road, and mastered by Josh Smith of the band Della Memoria. Album artwork for the "Waitin' Around" EP is credited to Alice Pieschel.
What is it that strikes me most about this EP? Lots of things actually, but honestly, it's just so pleasant to listen to these five outstanding songs. Musically, there's something sort of magical about the sound of the four-track recordings. They're genuine, raw, simple and real. You really pick up on the feeling and emotion that the music conveys, and it's refreshing to hear original music that is not over-produced.
Alex's smooth voice suits these tunes well, the songwriting is excellent and his acoustic guitar playing and fingerpicking stand out on all the songs. These are songs that you'll remember too. After only a few listens, they all had something that stuck with me (e.g., melody, lyric) and that made me want to listen again.
The overall feel of the EP lies somewhere between simple Southern folk/rock and acoustic Indie pop. Alex's sound has been described as "brooding folk" and "dream gaze pop", the latter most likely due to him incorporating electronic samplers and synthesizers for fuller sound, tempo and atmosphere, while falling back on smooth pop vocals and his old Yamaha acoustic guitar from the 1960's. Most of the songs have some additional instrumentation and production added by his fellow Columbus musicians noted above.
"Mediocre Love Song" is the opener and the most upbeat song on the EP. This is toe-tapping, catchy southern folk/rock. The quick acoustic guitar fingerpicking reminds me a bit of classic Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac.
Next up, and bringing the tempo down, is "Warning" - hands down, my favorite track and the highlight of the EP in my opinion. Alex's vocals are a bit distant with some echo in the mix. This song just flows so smoothly and also sets the mood for the tracks that follow: "I'm rolling uphill, I'm sleeping through the morning. Can't tell if it's hope, or if it's just a warning." The addition of some subtle synths nicely complement the acoustic and electric guitars, bass and drums.
VIDEO FOR "Warning":
"Waitin' Around", the title track, is also slower tempo, complete with backing vocals and what sounds like some appropriately placed finger snapping: "I'm still just waitin' around for someone like you". Although digitally recorded, it doesn't sound out of place at all in between its neighboring four-track friends.
"Song for Strangers" is another standout. Nice melody, toe tapping beat, and addition of simple synth sounds for atmosphere. The dreamy effects on Alex's vocals are reminiscent of The Radio Dept. (e.g., "Annie Laurie").
With its slower tempo and relaxed guitar playing, "Yesterday" is a great closing track to the EP. The lyrics are simple, and mostly consist of "I'm not gonna wish it was yesterday anymore" sung in varying melodies throughout the song. Nice way to end the EP.
At the time of writing, Alex is mostly playing one-off shows around the Southeast over the next few months, but hopes to branch out a bit further over time to some other locations. While there are only five songs on this EP, there's a lot more original music to hear on his SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages. He says, "My goal is to expand the EP to a full-length album sometime in the next year." Based on the quality of songwriting in what he's already made available, this is exciting news.
For more information, news and upcoming shows, check out Alex Pieschel on Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The digital download of the "Waitin' Around" EP is available on CDBaby, and you can also take a listen on Spotify.