I’ve been listening to Jared Putnam’s music as The March Divide in the last few years and he returns with something new called Saturdays (self-released) which show he continues to do what he does best, and that is to show how much of an artist he is and where he’s willing to go to go to new places. Fourteen songs may sound like a lot one needs to consume but if you’ve been into his style of rock pop, you are going to love each and every track. I still hear different Lenny Kravitz qualities in what he does but I also hear what makes some of Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Ben Folds, and Bruno Mars’ music stand out, and that he writes in a way that makes the songs hard to resist. They are well written and have enough qualities that will make you want to sing to its choruses once he sings the second one, only causing you to play the song two more times to be sure you didn’t miss any of the lyrics.
It is “extended” because it was considered more than just a 2-song single but less than an album that would generally have 10, 12, or 14 songs. In the old days, an EP was considered anything more than two songs but less than 26 minutes and 58 seconds. The moment your piece of work was 26:59 or 27 minutes even, that classified as an album. Fortunately, many artists these days still obey the old rules, even if some will say “that’s stupid.”
Anyway, the EP is a way for an artist to release new music but without having to create something that functions as a “full length”. An album has often been stigmatizing because some feel an album should be an “event” of sorts. In fact, that’s how many musicians and songwriters used to design an album, as a substitute for not being able to go to their actual performance. An album was meant to be “since you can’t come to see and hear us, this is our audio presentation of that show.” An EP is a nice, content way to provide a few new songs without going overboard. In the 80’s, EP’s were often done as “in between” releases, giving fans something to “fill the void” before the next big event was to happen, a rest period during or after a tour for the album. In the last five to ten years, EP’s have become stronger and you’ll see more people release EP’s as nothing more than just a set of songs that’s “more than just an MP3” but “less than the occasional burden of hearing an album.”
I got my share of EP’s throughout 2015 but oddly enough, I didn’t review a lot of them. I did post a handful for visitors to listen to but most I did not review them. I love the EP and perhaps I need to try to dedicate myself to more in 2016. This is the reason why this list is so brief: five titles. It’s unlike my album lists that can be jampacked with anything and everything but maybe this list is like the EP itself: nice and content. This is my list of what I feel were the Best “extended plays” of 2015.
Jared Putman is back with his new set of music as The March Divide and if you got into him for the first time with his Billions album, he’d like for you to continue with an EP simply called +1 (self-released). At first, I thought his style of singing in the opening cut (“Forward Thinking”) was a strong as Lenny Kravitz’s on his 5 album and tour but then the attitude came off like what Green Day has become, a nice mixture of punk and pop. It caught me by surprise but it’s welcome to hear something that may come off as diverse but also familiar. “Slow Down” has a slight Elvis Costello swagger to it, but “The Breakup” sounds like a ballad ready to sulk into and eat your life away through crappy chocolate bars until someone better comes along. Putnam is someone who isn’t afraid to express his deep feelings, and whether they are direct and to the point or full of metaphors is something meant to be figured out during each listen. He sounds like someone you’d love to get to know more with his music and more importantly, to hear more of what he has to offer in the future because his stories equal to those you’ve felt before. If radio was smart, they’d put the songs of +1 in heavy rotation.
As I was listening to The March Divide‘s Billions (self-released), I tried to hear their brand of pop/rock a bit more abrasive, as if they were trying to be a younger version of Green Day, Offspring, or any other band with a bit of punk pop power to it, but they don’t quite get there. That’s not a complaint, that’s actually a good thing and while the music would have welcomed a harder sheen, I like what they do here for they’re open to bringing in country, folk, and Americana influences that might have been overlooked if they did it in a different way. Some of it sounds like Lenny Kravitz if the style of rock he grew up with were a different set of bands, and that’s due to how Jared Putnam uses his voice. When the songs are more pop friendly, he could easily become a new heartthrob if he wanted that, but I don’t know what the ladies (or men) would think of him being a hunky vocalist. I think what carries the spirit throughout Billions is how the music drives from beginning to end and sometimes within the verse/chorus/verse structure, because they’re well written and done in a way that has a lot of thought.
While I wasn’t a big fan of their Music For Television EP, you may be a fan of The March Divide and probably thought “I don’t think you’re hearing what I’m hearing”, and I’m okay with that. I still want to show support for the group for those of you who are fans, and you’ll be happy to know that they’ve created a video for “So It Goes”. There you go.
Music For Television (Dead Letter) is a new EP by The March Divide, who venture forward with their combination of folk, pop, and songs that take on the tone of diary entries or personal blogs, all of which could easily become songs for commercial use. The band rock out by the time they get to song number 5, “Write Of”, but until then, they play the type of pleasant jingle-jangle folk pop that is sure to bring in a devoted audience. While the stories are good and motivational, I found the music staying in one corner and never coming out to play, which is unfortunate since the lyrics demand a full-on presentation. Until they, the music on Music For Television sounds as if they’re stuck on one channel. There’s something in The March Divide, but I’m not hearing it yet.
In this vast digital world, you know who may be still analog? The March Divide, the artist who was born Jared Putnam but wants to be known for his musicality and songwriting as The March Divide. His style of acoustic pop is the musical subject of his debut album, due out on Dead Letter Records on February 12, 2013, uniting the San Antonio artist with a Seattle label.
If Putnam’s name is familiar to some, he was once a member of The Conversation but after taking time away from music, and realizing that he could create all of the sounds himself, he went back in and tried it again, with great results.
The core of The March Divide is a man named Jared Putnam, and Music For Film (Dead Letter) is his music played and performed with the assistant of some of his friends. Putnam is a singer/songwriter who puts together heartfelt songs with a lot of conviction, and that is detected by how he sings and how the songs are presented. When Laura Wheeler joins him in “Skinny Brain”, you imagine (or at least I did) a small shed as everyone inside is playing a song about wanting someone but not quite asking the question or saying the things that need to be said. Everyone is there in silence waiting for it to be said, but part of the drama is hoping it will be.
Whether it’s in a full band setting or just Putnam and his guitar, Music For Film is acoustic music that moves you to think about the song, and how it applies to you, or how you would like to be able to do the things expressed in the song. You know your life is not being captured on film, but their songs convince you that life is easy when there is a beginning, middle, and end. In this case, life has already begun, we’re all going through eternal middles, but hope that by the time we reach our end, it will be as satisfying as the music Putnam performs here.