Arts & Entertainment

Table Top Joe releases free EPs

In these hard times, one band is doing its part to supply music to the masses for free.

The Spokane-based indie-folk-rock band Table Top Joe has released two free EPs for download, Armageddon on the Rise and The Man With No Name.

Offering the albums for free was simply a way to get their name out and have people easily obtain their music, said Danny Lopez, lead singer and guitarist for the band.

Armageddon is the stronger of the two, and the concept album is based on a vision of a troubled future world. Band members Eric Balmes on drums, Will Haworth on guitar, James Behold on bass, and Lopez clearly have fun on this album experimenting with different sounds than on their previous acoustic album, Noose In the Meadows, released in 2007.

Starting off with the fierce song, Dead Space, the band immediately takes listeners on a journey through this darker, clever world. While Lopez sometimes stretches to a falsetto that may be one octave too high for comfort, he supplies great break-downs in the chorus on guitar.

The Waterfall and The Way Things Are Going are hypnotic and have great compositions. The songs prove the band are great storytellers and offer more than just words that rhyme.

Mind Control, which clocks in under two minutes -- most of the songs last longer than four, instantly hooks you and Lopez's raspy vocals at the end dig into your ears. This is one track where they could have afforded to extend the length.

Lopez describes No Name as a homage to his favorite spaghetti westerns. While the album goes in a different direction, the band still manages to keep its original core.

Last Stand Bar Stool and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly are definitely cowboy movie-influenced. The songs are catchy in a Death Cab For Cutie meets The Killers kind of way.

Hang 'Em High has a pep that pulls it apart from the other songs. While there are lyrics, the instrumental parts with Balmes and Haworth are what's great about this track. The group maintains its high-energy all the way to the end.

The band plans to release two more free EPs this fall. The albums will take a familiar return to acoustic songs.

"The Darkest Night will be five songs of stories that I wrote based on fairly troubling concepts and Brings the Brightest Dawn will be a more positive album written about things I love, such as my wife, my kids and Huckleberry Finn," Lopez said.

With more hits than misses on Armageddon and No Name, Table Top Joe fans needn't complain -- especially since it's free.

For more information, go to www.myspace.com/rockthetabletop.

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