The room was small and there were too many ‘highs’ in the mix, but it was intimate (packed) and the crowd was energetic. It was nearing one of the last times Dallas would see the original line up. Their debut album Through the Trees had already been out for almost a year, but ISHI knows better than to over play shows, sometimes even playing some private shows here and there that were extremely expensive to access as well as making another pass to new fansby opening up for SBTRKT.
A band’s success is dependent on loyal fans but a band’s success is never complete without having some “haters” waiting to watch them fail – especially when Taylor left to start Zhora. Over the past year they submitted some SoundCloud teasers that were keeping appetites wet for a new album. So how much does this new album matter?
The opener ‘Mirror Ball Sky’ sets the tone for this full length release. ISHI seems very confident in this presentation and starting us off slowly. It seems reasonable that they want to hold off on the gems and just set the pace. When ‘Emotional Hard Drive’ kicks in, I wonder why I waited through the opening track. Mudd’s vocal style creates these moments of imagination that are key to those hooks that made the their debut a contender in the local scene and they keep it steady from here on with ‘Disco Queen’, which has enough power to make this another hit. Even ‘Mother Prism’ is too catchy to dismiss and naysayers could just accept defeat on this one.
Group sourcing is a great way to complete some projects, but I didn’t realize that I was gonna have to do all the “heavy lifting” through the rest of the album! This is why deregulation doesn’t work for independent releases. If it wasn’t for record store day, the kids wouldn’t know what a B-side was. All of the excitement that was built up around ISHI is the reason why I got drawn in before listening to any of their material. I got caught up in it and there are no regrets about that, but this doesn’t deliver the same expectation. The driving beat of ‘Slowly but Surely’ (while taking place during the lowest point of energy during the album), is enough to turn mediocre into “interesting” and really doesn’t change pace until their self-named ‘Ishi’ comes in to set a different tone to the album before the potentially flat lining.
The album settles on being pleasant. One of ISHI’s keys to success is being able to stretch themselves out over a period of time, and they have a clever strategy and level of execution that makes them the ‘Dandys’ of the Dallas independent music scene.
John Mudd is a very approachable, warm and friendly guy and he has some history with many people in the Dallas scene and with this album, he hasn’t worn out his significance. Taylor was a very important element in ISHI and put a face other than Mudd’s to it, which presented them in a fashion where it really mattered the first time around. This album gives you some decent material that needs to be heard but then it might just be promotion for the live shows, where they really capture that much needed energy.