After releasing their debut LP in 2010 and the killer single "Birdbeat" last year, Hello Echo have somewhat reinvented themselves in their brand new EP, Coffee Cups. It's not a dramatic shift, but the "reckless spirit" mentioned on Hello Echo's bandcamp page is certainly an apt description here. Coffee Cups sees the band donning a punkier version of itself, mixing the urgency of surf rock with the ragged wail of Sean Aylward's vocals.
On earlier releases, Hello Echo tapped into the eccentric brilliance of Modest Mouse, but that influence is somewhat muted this time around. Instead, the title track trades the mellow groove of their previous singles for energetic guitar riffing. "Country," with its meandering twists and turns, is almost several songs in one. And "I Wore It Too" completely slams on the breaks. A pretty harmonica ballad, it couldn't be more different from the two songs that precede it. Aylward's vocals really shine here, as his weary delivery lends an impressive, affecting gravitas to the song.
Hello Echo is currently wrapping up a Pacific coast tour, but if you're in the San Francisco area on Sept 13 or Santa Monica on Sept 15, definitely consider checking them out. With any luck, Coffee Cups is a sign of things to come; the band intends to begin recording its sophomore full-length after the tour, for tentative release in early 2013.