For a four-song EP, Oliver Waterman’s “Lament” is a fairly long-playing affair. The Portland multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter’s first official album feels greater than the sum of its parts, blending acoustic pop with a kind of highly arranged, folk-orchestral sound. Waterman, who played in a number of hyper local indie and punk bands in Portland before striking out on his own, has a lot of ideas and a lot of things to say, musically, having played with so many different people over the years. Waterman borrows a page from the Jeff Buckley vocal playbook, with a powerful, multi-octave croon put to its best effect on album closer “Lament,” the title track, a seven-minute, slow-building epic that’s the best thing on the album overall; raw, impassioned and exciting. In fact, the EP is bottom heavy with the two best songs, the aforementioned “Lament” and “Madness,” a single, are the album’s strongest. “Take It With Me” and “It’s Only Love,” the first two tracks, though featuring evocative cello playing by Devon Colella and plenty of Waterman’s excellent guitar playing, feel a bit overwrought. It’s clear Waterman has more than enough musical talent to put to use; let’s see where he takes it as he grows as a songwriter.
Meanwhile, another local EP that came out in the past few weeks is “Gloomy Tunes,” the first effort from Weakened Friends, a Portland-Toronto-Boston indie rock band comprised of Sonia Sturino from The Box Tiger, Cam Jones from Worried Well and Annie Hoffman from The Field Effect. “Gloomy Tunes” is a gleeful throwback to the badass lady rock of the 1990s and early 2000s, that zips along at pop-punk speed but ends up sounding more like the kid sister to Liz Phair or current snotty punk trendsetters Potty Mouth. It will be hard to get “Won Yet,” the lead single, out of your head, upon several listenings — in fact, the whole EP is an efficient ten minutes, packed with hooks and fist pumping rhythms just made to put on while driving around town with the windows down. Sturino is a charismatic frontwoman, and the three of them together make a pretty dynamic trio — “Gloomy Tunes” is certainly a misnomer, as this is among the most entertaining indie punk I’ve heard in a long time. I’m definitely excited to hear a full-length album.