It was about 15 months ago that Jessie Sprinkle revealed on his SNARE JUNKIE YouTube series that he was in the early stages of a project called BLANK BOOKS with his producer/solo artist extraordinaire brother Aaron Sprinkle. It was enough to spark the curiosity and enthusiastic interest of all who heard the news, but, for the next fifteen months, nothing more was heard about the project. That all changed, though, with Instagram and Facebook posts stating that Aaron and Jessie had a big announcement to make at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, November 22. At that very hour, without a label to back them and without crowdfunding support, Aaron and Jessie independently released EP1, the debut from BLANK BOOKS — a two-man band that marks Aaron and Jessie’s first collaboration since their days as one half of legendary band POOR OLD LU.
EP1 is a sometimes-grunting, often-soaring, six-song EP that lands each footfall with the impact of a rhino and features a trajectory of guitar riffs that articulately survey the heights of 80’s arena rock, late-70’s metal, and 90’s grunge — with a sprinkling of punk on the side. The weight, tones, and heights of the guitars, combined with the Jessie’s deft drumming, contrast with Aaron’s sometimes-fragile, always-fluid vocals in a manner that seems to create space and allow the listener to simultaneously appreciate the unique contributions of each component while reveling in the richness of the whole.
Lyrically, the songs follow a number of different paths with some treading on introspective territory familiar to anybody who has followed Aaron’s solo work. But, other songs seem to lend an unabashed hopeful tone such as, “Lean In,” a personal favorite:
You say you’ve had enough
That you feel like giving up
I know where you are
The perils of this road
Look different when you’re not alone
So I’ll hold you and you hold on to me
I’ve been standing on the edge of a storm
Trying to keep myself warm
So we can begin to stand shoulder to shoulder and lean in
Each of the tracks on EP1 features a sprawling dynamic that the listener can’t help, but, to find a hook to hang onto. If this were a full album, I would call it a gourmet feast of delicious food — the likes of which has not been enjoyed in some time by listeners — but, with only six tracks it’s more like a gourmet power lunch with Aaron and Jesse Sprinkle, both at the same table, pulling out a chair for you to join them. I’m glad I accepted that offer. Digging in to EP1 has been delicious experience and I’ll surely be back for more.