Dig Baton Rouge

Record In Review: England In 1819’s Summer Lightning EP

By Pat Gunther

From the get-go, England In 1819’s newest EP, Summer Lightning, is an eerie, industrial piece laden with alternative rock sensibilities and uplifting, airy melodies that illustrate the aptly fitting title. Inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem of the same name, England In 1819 embodies the central tenants of the sonnet, creating an atmospheric soundscape that completely breaks away from the style and sounds that are typical of Baton Rouge musical acts.

The duo comprised of brother’s Andrew and Dan Callaway combine Dan’s masterful synth navigation with the smooth and haunting vocals that Andrew tactfully lays down on each track. Much like Shelley’s attack on the decadence and oppressive reign of King George III, the Callaway brothers’ newest EP sends a message to those heavy-hitting, big-league stadium acts that is abundantly clear; you don’t need a huge budget and publicized record deal to create grandiose and passionate music that appeals to listeners.

From the first track, “Pine”, the duo’s pulsating and industrial drum work sets the scene for a crescendo of synthesizer beats and electro-drum work that grows to a maximalist glow about a minute into the four minute track. Akin to an architect or symphony composer, Dan Calloway’s catchy and progressive beats are built piece by piece, pulling the listener in with each delightful addition to the tracks that all exceed three minutes in length. Though patience is required to get to the real meat of each song, it’s well worth the wait.

Moreover, Andrew’s solid vocal effort, at times reminiscent of Chester French’s D.A. Wallach, adds a dose of that indie panache that fans of the Red Stick’s favorite sons have effectively personalized. On the third track, “Lights”, Andrew’s vocals set the tone for the track before an orchestral synth wash and a triumphant choir enters the scene with about a minute remaining. This particular choice, more than any other on the EP, perfectly illustrates the group’s preferred Bandcamp tag of “grandwave” in all its 4:19 glory.

With this sentiment firmly entrenched in the second half of the EP, Andrew and Dan Calloway have broken away from the cookie-cutter route of a southern indie duo, combining a broad range of delicate French horn use with powerful and often times completely engrossing electronic music that is particularly triumphant. As their namesake states in its final three lines, “A Senate—Time’s worst statute unrepealed, –Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may–Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.” Perfectly encapsulates the record’s wide-range of influences and undeniable sonic appeal that serves as a beacon of light in a diluted and often boring music scene here in Baton Rouge.

So, as the group’s ability to capture those maximalist, completely sonically enveloping sounds in the studio has become abundantly clear, their October 30th performance at Chelsea’s Café will give fans the opportunity to see the talented duo live, in action, and hopefully capture some of that magic that is present throughout their latest, glowing body of work.


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“Our Own God”
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