Eastern Conference Champions: Speak-ahh

Music Reviews Eastern Conference Champions
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Eastern Conference Champions: <em>Speak-ahh</em>

The second most ironic reference to winning in pop culture this year

For every so-called proper musical genre (rock, folk, ska, etc.), there are at least half a dozen unofficial — although usually more telling — categories an album can fall into. These give music classifications like “great for road trips,” “songs for summer nights” and “album that you don’t really realize is playing until it stops.”

Speak-ahh, the latest effort from rock trio Eastern Conference Champions, fits squarely into that final group. If interpreted by an optimist, this could mean that there is nothing offensively wrong with the album; if interpreted by a pessimist, it could mean that there was nothing inherently impressive about it. It means both.

Most tracks plod along with a too-little-too-late drum break or outburst of guitar riffs kicking in later. “Patience” is the greatest offender, with a barely-there melody that gets kicked up a notch about three minutes in. The result is a lovelier and richer echo of the beginning of the track that teases listeners before the song flat-lines again. Eastern Conference Champions veer away from the conventional successfully on “Offkilter,” which features a frenzied, albeit too-short, outburst of horns.

Lyrically, most of the songs come off sounding a like the band members ripped up pages of their diaries and stuck some pieces together with tape. On “Sunshine,” frontman Josh Ostrander sings, “Soul, where have you gone … The coming tides will wash you,” in a half-sneer.

Eastern Conference Champions shy away from risks on Speak-ahh. This makes it safe, an album that can be enjoyed passively — but not one that ever really engages or challenges listeners.