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Review: Austin-based indie rock band Summer Fires’s “Without A Word” EP

Austin-based indie rockers Summer Fires are releasing their debut EP, “Without A Word,” on January 18. The five-piece outfit specializes in the melding of rock and pop sensibilities, inspired by bands like The Killers, Spoon and The Strokes.  The band is comprised of J.P. Welsh on vocals, guitars, and keys, Seth Bellon on bass guitar, Scotty Barnes on drums, Jeremy Stein on guitar, and Matt Gilmour on vocals and guitar. They began recording the forthcoming EP in 2016 with producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith, who has worked with Jet, Santana and The Toadies in the past. “Summer Fires embodies everything I look for in a group,” said Smith upon working with them.

Album cover of “Without a Word” | Courtesy of Summer Fires

The feeling appeared to be mutual, with frontman J.P. Welsh saying, “I can’t say enough about how much his guidance and support have been crucial in making this record, pushing our vision and solidifying the sound of this band.” Eden Welply provides backing vocals and guitar on several tracks, and her harmonies with Welsh are a welcome addition to the EP.

“Without A Word” features seven tracks and opens with the titular song. It begins with an almost folksy-rock sound, slowly leading to a more straightforward mid-tempo rock song. The second track on the album is the lead single, “Coming Down,” which has a mix of music and vocals that may appeal to fans of Blue October and similar groups. The next track, “Last Four Hours,” has a rhythm to it that will draw you in, with heavy drum beats and guitar riffs leading into the chorus. It will make you want to catch Summer Fires live for sure. While “Coming Down” really showcases their catchy pop sound, “Last Four Hours” follows it with a stronger rock vibe.

Photo courtesy of Summer Fires

“Wait.Wait.Wait.” is a song in which the band is clearly channeling The Strokes, distorted guitar and all. Like the song preceding it, this track makes it easy to imagine yourself bobbing along to it at one of Austin’s many music venues. Welsh really shows off his vocals during the bridge of “Wait.Wait.Wait.” too, more so than on the songs that come before it. The next song, “The Dive,” is more quirky, poppy and fast-paced than the others, including rhythmic clapping to the beat. It’s catchy and fun, and best of all, it shows off the strengths of Summer Fires. That’s followed by “Here Tonight,” a mid-tempo number that seems to utilize a more electronic or synth-inspired sound.

The EP closes out with “The Dreams We Had,” which begins with guitar that seems to aim to evoke nostalgia. It’s not too far off from the folksy sound heard at the beginning of the album. It also crescendos into a more mainstream pop-rock sound around the chorus, and finishes “Without A Word” on a strong note.

Summer Fires premiered a music video for “Coming Down” in November at Stubb’s Indoors. The video was made with directors Avery Merrifield and Tyler Tipton. Of working with them, Welsh said, “Avery and Tyler were a great team, working seamlessly together to execute their vision. The video engages heavy imagery and mind-bending shots to portray a truly addictive relationship.”

The official EP release party for “Without A Word” is taking place at Stubb’s Indoors, on January 18. Doors open at 8 PM that night and Summer Fires is set to take the stage at 10 PM. You can visit the band’s official website for tickets & more information. If you love local pop-rock shows in Austin, don’t miss out!

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