RMRS' new EP V I C T I M S is a remarkably dense listen, despite the stylized spacing of its name. The SA quintet packs its five-song second effort with caterwauling guitar lines, keyboard and backdrops. If there's a vocal melody going, there's often a harmony pulling at it like a rip tide.
On the EP, it's a definite plus. The thickness of V I C T I M S is well thought out, not an example of over-stimulation or trying to do too much. But in the live set, the viscosity of the music creates another problem.
"I've fallen off the stage so many times because we have too many instruments," said singer Michael Christopher. Keyboards, guitars, a smorgasbord of pedals for additional flavor, drums, drum pads and a few hundred yards of cable make for a cluttered, but necessary stage space. "At the same time, it makes everything so beefy live," said guitarist Kyle Cooper.
Last February, RMRS released its debut album Don't Say What It Means To You. Over nine tracks, the outfit plays with nimble kicks and syncopated riffs, as Christopher sings of life and loss in a voice pushed just beyond its breaking point.
For the second effort, RMRS carefully layered more into less for the five-track EP. A favorite trick of drummer Joseph Briones is drawing energy down with a triplet emphasis on the kick drum, then snapping back up with the on-beat. Around this structural rhythm, the band creates a landscape of interacting guitars and vocals. "We've added a lot more instrumentation," said Christopher. "On this EP we're doing a lot of three to four part harmonies and chants."
Within those involved vocal lines, V I C T I M S takes a step forward, with a head turned wistfully to the past. "Waves were slipping in the hardest way, when will I return?" Christopher signs on the opener, with nostalgia pining in his voice.
"From a lyric perspective, this EP is about growing up," Christopher said. "Leaving a phase in your life and going on to a new one and remembering that phase a little bit. Trying to hold on to that part of your life. A lot of it has to do with the time when Kyle and I were living in another area, another place, different time, different people in our lives."
RMRS V I C T I M S EP Release feat. The Native Roar, Islands & Tigers, The Sour Notes, Bright Like the Sun, Last Nighters
$10-$12, 8pm Sat, February 28, Jack's Bar, 3030 Thousand Oaks, 494-2309, jacksbarsa.com