Album Review: Flint Eastwood – Small Victories EP
If you’ve been following us here at UBL at all, you know that one of our favorite bands out there right now is Detroit’s own Flint Eastwood. The band will always have a special place in our hearts as one of the first bands we reviewed and still continues to be one of the best live shows that I’ve ever experienced. Jax Anderson is a force of nature, commanding your attention on stage and making you feel like a long lost friend when you talk to her off stage. Anderson is positive and personable and puts every piece of her into her music and performances.
It’s been almost two years since we saw Flint Eastwood headline at The Loving Touch just a week after Anderson lost her mother. She dedicated a song to her mother and it was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had. A few months later, I lost the man that was the closest thing I have to a father figure in my life. I can’t really describe that sense of loss, it’s just not something you’ll understand until it happens to you.
I attended the Flint Family BBQ days later and couldn’t help but be flooded with emotion. First the memories of that night at The Loving Touch when Anderson was so open with a room full of strangers about her loss followed quickly by the still fresh loss of my own. But for the first time in those few days I felt something that I hadn’t expected to feel for a long time: hope. While it’s hard to imagine a world without someone that has shaped your little corner of it so much, eventually you’ll be able to adjust to life without them. They may be gone, but they’re always with you.
This is quite a lengthy introduction and probably more than I would ever share about my personal life on UBL but it was unavoidable with Flint Eastwood’s new EP, Small Victories. It is, after all, very much about dealing with loss and pushing through it and ignites so many emotions when I listen to it. From the opening notes of the opening track I knew that I was going to be in for a truly special experience. “Find What You’re Looking For” eases in with some haunting multi-tracked vocals before kicking into stop-start percussion. The track is stripped down to the bare minimum leaving you with the eerie harmonized vocals that are rather calming. The music and lyrics paired together feel like a moment of clarity after a great loss, a moment where you know everything will be ok. “You say follow your heart / There you’ll find a home / Look past the stars / You’ll never be alone” Anderson echoes on the chorus.
“Glitches” picks things up a bit with fuzzy synths and a chorus that has been stuck in my head since I first heard the track. It was a quick favorite for me, the herky jerky synths and bass lines throughout are great but it’s the airy layered vocals that lead to the repeating “Run run run…” over a galloping beat at the two and half minute mark that really makes this song a standout. The build up launching into an explosion for the last run of the chorus has me hitting the repeat button a few times before moving on with the rest of the EP.
“Monster” is another killer example of how Anderson can bring things down to the bare minimum and craft one of the best tracks on the album. The funky repeating bass blips carry the track under Anderson as she sings about the Monster that lives in everyone’s head and attempts to pull you into the depths. In the end, it’s an uplifting track in the reassurance that “it’s gonna be alright alright / We’re gonna make it through the night.”
We get a glimpse of the spaghetti western sound of Flint Eastwood’s first EP, Late Night in Bolo Ties, with the opening guitar riff on “Oblivious.” Having seen the band perform a handful of times now I feel like I’m instantly transported into those memorable moments with Anderson on stage and the crowd around me losing themselves in the moment and dancing the night away. “Oblivious” marks the turning point, the moment where you just forget everything and get up and dance for four minutes.
Anderson goes full poppy goodness on “God Only Knows.” Another dance party inspiring track will have you up and moving along to the infectious beat. It’s when you finally sit down and really listen to the lyrics that you can really take in the powerful message of the track. “This year got a new perspective / This year things are gonna change / I wanna talk about it when they say how you been / I’d love to talk about it, where do I begin?” A great message that we’re all going through things that the outside world doesn’t know about. Sometimes you need to unload and that’s ok, this song is also great to throw on when you just need to dance it out.
The EP closes with the title track which opens up with heavenly synths before launching into another pop infused dance track. If Small Victories is the journey through Anderson’s grief then the closing track is the triumphant anthem of coming out on the other side of it as a “champion.” “What are we doing, why should we care?” Anderson poses at about the halfway mark of the track. Life throws you curve balls and sometimes forces you to go through something you may not have been ready for but you can come through it and take time to appreciate the small victories.
Listening to this EP brought so many emotions forward, many of which I wasn’t quite ready to return to but realize now that it needed to happen. It’s rare when you feel like a song or album was written completely for you but that’s how I feel about Small Victories.