Rising from the ashes and retaking flight is a characteristic usually reserved for the phoenix. Being reborn from the previous lineup of Tighticus Finch, Boston-based Cardinals looks to follow that same mantra. Their new acoustic EP “Aftertaste” takes a couple of old favorites, reworked and reimagined, alongside some fresh material to put together a highly enjoyable project.
Opening with an acoustified Finch cut in “When I’m Gone”, Emily Ronna takes full advantage of the space offered by the lack of a full band to really stretch the breadth of her vocals, giving new life to the track. Guitarist CJ Rarela’s richer playing in this new setting, backed with a kickass cajon, makes this reinvented punk single feel more at home in the back of a pickup truck out in the country, than in the back of a van in the city. The ability to transition so effortlessly is what makes this EP so remarkable.
Sandwiched in between the bookended reworks of the prior outfit, Cardinals offer up a few new additions to the repertoire. “Remission” shows the progress in songwriting of Ronna over the past year, while still being able to rifle off a quotable lyric such as, “I found your cord/I cut you off”. Rarela continues to show his growth as well, laying down a solo towards the end full of licks and bends, dripping off some twangy, down-home sauciness from these New Englanders. “Of Montreal” brings a good ebb and flow to the EP, with a ballad to balance off the more thumping tracks. Ronna is at her most personal it feels on this one as she merges the classic punk angst with a dreamy, nostalgic longing usually more reserved for pop-oriented love songs. She finds the best of both of these flavors and marry them well. “In the Dust” kicks it back up with a more driving, straight-forward headbobber. There’s almost, dare I say it, a twinge of Taylor Swift in Ronna’s delivery on this one. Upon further research one will find that the duo’s former band first official video was indeed a cover of Swift’s hit single “Shake it Off” bringing the theory more true.
The project ends at a crisp twenty minutes with another reworked Finch track in “Human”. Rarela the guitarist, but also the producer, really shines on this track as his effects on Ronna’s voice and his reworking of the original payoff to seriously good results. It’s a fitting ending to an EP a year in the making through various ups and downs. It feels good to feel so raw.
Cardinals’ new EP “Aftertaste” is available for purchase through their Bandcamp page and also available to stream through all major streaming outlets and via their official Youtube page. Be sure to check out Cardinals on April 12th at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, MA.