The self-titled EP by Not The Arrow is a refreshingly open-hearted work by the Indie Rock band from Boulder, Colorado. Their music is driving and melodic with an earnest drive throughout. They use lush sonic textures to enhance a connection between the listener and music. A combination of smart production and solid songwriting makes Not The Arrow’s EP feel like a full journey in just 6 songs. But what’s most fascinating to me is that Not The Arrow accomplished all this while recording live.
The implications of recording live start with the dynamic of the band. Every member must be present and willing to play songs straight through. If one person fucks-up they either have to record the takeover or they would have to accept the mistake. Why would a band choose to record live when technology has given the ability to anyone to record technically perfect music? If you record via a midi instrument and a note sounds rhythmically off you can easily nudge it over in time with a grid. If one take of a live instrument isn’t to your liking you can tune it up, tune it down, or cut and paste from multiple takes to create the right sound.
Imperfections aren’t tolerated in mainstream music, so releasing a live piece of music takes a level of vulnerability that only some possess. In an age where people can easily manipulate what the world sees of them through technology, this is a courageous and meaningful endeavor. Regardless, the band recorded a technically sound work. There is not a moment where I felt the band was out of sync nor could I detect any perceptible mistakes.
Not The Arrow’s self titled EP is a lesson and reminder to enjoy music. It taught me that if you let go of your “ego” and trust yourself, your music, and the people you make it with, something beautiful can be recorded. It reminded me that music isn’t about perfection, but expression.