“is a Colorado-based artist who has been releasing music under the supervision of Todd Tobias, the famed producer and collaborator of Guided By Voices and other Robert Pollard endeavors. The music of Kramies is quite a far cry from anything in the Pollard universe though. For one thing, he stays away from any lo-fi style recording techniques. He is a couple albums deep with Tobias, and just recently, his latest EP was dropped. It goes by the title of , (possibly in reference to his apparent Dutch roots), and for the first time listener, it should be known that his sound is pretty expansive for a solo artist. Apart from the acoustic guitar he plays, accompaniment ranges from all sorts of different instruments, so the product on hard copy is much more full than you would expect.
For such a measly, five song extended play, it feels like you’re strapped in on a long, emotional journey led by Kramies. His music is powerfully melancholy at times. Judging from three fifths of this record, you would take the man for a very musically inclined sad sack. Painting a picture of his sound is quite easy. Halfway through the title track, there’s strong echoes of Mercury Rev‘s Deserter’s Songs; particularly a blend of the blissful nature of “Holes” and the decaying harmony of “The Funny Bird.” This combination best describes Kramies’ EP; not to mention that his slightly raspy vocals mirror that of Jonathan Donahue.
Kramies doesn’t use standard tuning on his guitar, or at least it does not appear that way to the trained ear. What can safely be said about his guitar work is that his chord structures are rather unconventional, but in a good way. It isn’t something out of left field, but it’s enough to catch your attention, especially when backed by all the majestic production value that surrounds it. All the stops are pulled out, from shimmering and just-the-right-amount-of-atonal keyboards to well-executed, complimentary supporting vocals.
Extended plays are wonderful things. They are small offerings from artists that often end up showcasing the scope of their palette. The most important aspect ofis its fulfilling of this task. Over five tracks, the listener gets an indelible familiarity with Kramies and where his talents can take him. His record begins humbly with “Intro,” a pacifist’s bleak, acoustic guitar piece, and later builds up to the vastly different “Coal Miners Executive Club;” a song that relies largely on synths. No matter where Kramies ventures, the result is always heartfelt and hard-hitting.
Becauseis such an immersing experience, there isn’t much that will get stuck in your head or keep you humming on your way to work. This EP is best enjoyed and bears the punchiest impact when listened to as a whole, given its epic and commanding pretension. However, there is nothing outwardly pretentious about this release, it just so happens that Kramies packs a lot of songwriting and grandiose crescendos all into a little extended play. In short, what lies inside this release ends up being a lot more intimidating that you would assume.
The European isn’t your typical sampler of an EP, but Kramies isn’t necessarily your run-of-the-mill solo artist either. His music is one to be tackled with a mind that is willing to be taken on a trip; one that is as instrumentally engaging as it is deeply pensive in regards to its lyrical content. It is also no question that Todd Tobias and Kramies make a great recording team. Tobias does every justice to the ethereal and occasionally gloomy soundscape created by Kramies, producing a truly beautiful and diversified release. This kicks other solo artists like James Blunt and Edwin McCain to the curb. In fact, it doesn’t even belong in the same league of the likes of those two. He delivers at such a high caliber that exceeds the title of “solo artist,” and leaves it in the dust as nothing more than a misnomer.”