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The Bullring by the Sea (Anodyne)


More often than not, even the most accomplished bands must overcome early stumbles. In many cases, the subpar products aren't widely available major-label debuts but rather demos that disappear soon after dissemination like Mission: Impossible briefings. Local music fans, the ones who went to the first shows and shelled out a few bucks for three-song cassettes, are the first to discover such sonic sketches. And when a band later finds its voice, only these longtime listeners can truly appreciate how far it has come.

Overstep's embryonic effort Do You Copy wasn't an outright embarrassment: The diagnosis called for refinement rather than an absolute overhaul. The components that make The Bullring by the Sea so strong -- dramatic drum embellishment, vivid guitar leads capped by frosty reverb, emotive vocals -- appeared in overabundance on the EP. This time, the drumrolls and singing complement each other instead of wrestling for supremacy, and the dual-ax interaction gets more space to develop, leading to enchanting, atmospheric lulls. Whereas it once struggled to produce a single memorable melody, Overstep now generates several in each song, with its guitars and vocals independently exploring equally compelling territory.

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