Split EP (Second Nature)

Small Brown Bike/Casket Lottery 

Split EP (Second Nature)

The split EP has been around the indie-rock world for eons, competing with the shared single as an obligatory DIY move. Generally, there's little point: two bands throw in a few songs that weren't good enough to be released on a proper album, and the fans belly up to the bar. Kudos, then, to Small Brown Bike and Casket Lottery for making their pairing a collaborative effort that offers its respective audiences something new. Call it Bike Lottery or Small Brown Casket. "Try not to stress out too much on figuring out which band played which songs," advise the liner notes, which prominently display this information below the titles of the EP's six numbers. But hearing Casket Lottery vocalist Nate Ellis wail away on "Wrong Hometown" as the Bike tears the shit out of the backing track is a thrilling ride. (This aural mate-swapping is reversed on the equally shredding "Boarding House.") Sadly, what might have been the best of these unions -- a cover of Queen's collaboration with David Bowie, "Under Pressure" -- turns out to be underwhelming after a few spins. "Pressure" was actually a great tune until Vanilla Ice stole the bass line and forced listeners to associate it with his "Ice Ice Baby." The Bike/Lottery remake is treated with minimal reverence, going instead for easy laughs and irony. But this minor misstep is salvaged by the closing number, "Riding With Death," a slow-burning melodic meditation tinted with lazy acoustic strumming and lolling slide lines.

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