The Morning Line returns after an absence of eight years, with singer-songwriter Stephen Smith still at the helm. The seven tracks on the San Francisco-based quartet’s recently released Smoke EP reflect Smith’s background on the indie rock scene in bands like Salem 66 and Green Magnet School. There’s also a hint of Americana music running through this series of emotionally charged tales set to exquisite melodies.
The mostly acoustic “Last One Of The Losers” works fine in a literal sense, but it’s also possible that Smith intends this detailed portrait of a club owner shutting down his business as a metaphor for a relationship that’s run its course. The mid-tempo “Stars To Me” likewise has a symbolic feel to it, but there’s no mistaking the barbed observations of big city life in “Los Angeles.” It’s also probably the only song with a reference to working at the since departed Tower Records.
“Only Game In Town,” an energetic tune reminiscent of Gin Blossoms, gives us a guy who’s fed up with his unpredictable girlfriend, her relatives, and the boring people who live in the area. “Anybody Else” and “All Mine” also brim with negative sentiments, but The Morning Line gives them irresistible, power pop-meets-Americana arrangements. Smoke is available for download on the group’s Bandcamp site, which is where you can also buy a limited edition version on cassette.