If an EP is supposed to mark a unified vision of sound, then Colin Onderdonk isn’t doing what he’s supposed to do. The only consistency within Onderdonk’s debut EP, Proximity Effect, would be the reverb levels for his vocal tracks. Discordant gaps between Onderdonk’s tunes are pleasant, and even surprising. What’s more surprising is this young Texas lad is only 18.
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The first minute of “Prologue,” the EP’s opening track, could be confused for the mastered ramblings of a party’s resident dude-playing-guitar. Don’t write it off; get on Onderdonk’s level! The following tracks could all be described as well-produced. “Tidal Bomb”’s crown jewel is its bluesy riff, but it also gets into a muddy groove reminiscent of the Talking Heads.
For influences, Onderdonk cites Marcus Mumford, Kendrick Lamar, John Steinbeck, C.S. Lewis, and Ethan and Joel Cohen, in that order. At certain moments, the reviewer realizes that the artist is not necessarily the best authority of his work. Mumford fits, but Kendrick is nowhere to be found in Proximity Effect, and unless Onderdonk turns down that reverb, his music will likely never grace a Cohen bros. film.
Invoking C.S. Lewis, however, seems particularly apt. Hidden just below the polished veneer of this indie EP is a Christian ideology. And like the work of C.S. Lewis, it should not be written off because of these values. “Walls,” a song about building, not breaking them down and “Savior’s Hand,” an exploration of mortality, mark the most overt mention of Onderdonk’s faith. “I walk on a minefield of my own flesh,” Onderdonk sings in the former; his message is not exactly uplifting, and, most of the time, it’s difficult to understand through the reverb.
Every track besides “Prologue” contains a full studio production: strings (the fretless kind), bongos, piano, and a new-agey bass line on “Foreign Home.” Onderdonk strums his acoustic guitar throughout. Overall, the young Texan is in the right producer’s hands, and his music is worth a listen.