Columbus, Ohio outfit Earwig (@earwigtheband) is considered an “underground” band, however, after getting a dose of the 2011 album Gibson Under Mountain, it is amazing this band has not received their due. In anticipation of the record’s re-release on February 13, it is appropriate to introduce younger alternative rock aficionados to this group who seemed to bubble under mainstream fame, but not quite get the spotlight. It might not be too late for them to get some well-deserved recognition, though.
The first track, “Trees”, starts slow but picks up the pace within a matter of seconds. It is a remarkable opener and is just the tip of the iceberg of what Earwig offers. Lead singer and songwriter Lizard McGee penned himself a would-be hit with “Star Cross’d”, a tune that includes backup from Casey Cooper from highly regarded Columbus rock duo The Receiver. The third song, “Not About You”, is another solid example of McGee’s songwriting skills at play. Also, the album clicks due to production from McGee and Mike Landolt along with superb musicianship from bassist Matt Wagner, drummer Justin Crooks, and percussionist George Hondroulis.
Although McGee writes great zero-to-sixty alternative rock tracks, but he has some power ballads in his arsenal. The fourth song, “Her Heart”, is one of them and it includes help from backing vocalist Andy Harrison and organist Thom Boyer. This record also includes a prolific holiday song “Next Christmas” that deals with the travesty of drugs during a would-be festive time of year. These are fine examples of McGee’s wide creativity range and if he were interested in writing and producing songs for other artists, they would be in excellent hands with him in charge.
The remainder of Gibson Under Mountain reeks of awesomeness that alternative rock fans love and miss as the genre gets more computerized and sanitized. A surefire radio smash is “Glorious & Gloom” that with the right label support would go straight to the top. Ditto the Death Cab-esque “Shiny Morning”. The record ends on a smashing note with “Rumplestiltskin”, the record’s longest track by a country mile. From start to finish, the album is a fantastic effort worth more critical and commercial acclaim than received seven years ago. The re-release will give alternative rock buffs a throwback to the days of Blink-182, Flickerstick, among others.
The fact that the band did not get the major label contract worthy of their work is highly baffling. Per the band’s Wikipedia page, for a time there certainly was interest from labels but it was not to be. Undeterred, McGee went the DIY route by opening up LFM Records. The group is in good company with other respected locals on the cusp of the big time such as Watershed, Templeton, and Miranda Sound. Word is that in addition to the Gibson Under Mountain re-release more than a week away, new material is coming soon. 2018 might just be the year Earwig breaks through like never before.