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EP REVIEW: Skittish - The five Stages EP

By: Cyrus Rhodes




Artist: Skittish (Jeff Noller)
Album: The Five Stages EP
Label: Independent Artist

Genre: Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Pop
Sounds Like:
The Black Keys, Maroon 5, The Beatles, Oasis, Eric Hutchinson
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs:
The Fixer, Built to Break

Weakness: A few winded songs, EP Release


Skittish is a interesting musical project based out of Minnesota. You may recall Skittish back in 2010 coming off the heels of their amazing double CD entitled The Perfect Shade of Green which received critical acclaim for many music critics worldwide. This time around Skittish is absent Vonnie Kyle (vocals, keyboards and accordion) and is just Jeff Noller (vocals, guitar). Skittish just released his latest EP teaser entitled “The Five Stages” (2012).

Track 1 Running Lights” wastes no time getting the EP off the ground with its dynamic rhythm, infectious fretwork and accents, with catchy chorus and clever thought provoking lyrical content from Noller. Track 2 “Built to Break” serves up an impressive psychedelic rock groove with methodical musical intro meshed with well placed vocal harmonies and a passionate vocal vibe from Noller. This coupled with mysterious lyricaall content and dynamic song structure make for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3 shifts gears a bit “The Fixer” with a nice moving ballad that flows and ebbs it’s way though to emotional fruition with well placed Piano and Horn tandems against impressive chorus.  As these three tracks slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical influences reminiscent of The Black Keys, Maroon 5, The Beatles, Oasis, Eric Hutchinson and even John Mayer. Noller’s music is a psychedelic blend of alternative rock and Pop with subtle hints of Psychadelic Power Pop.  Besides the four piece standard you will also notice impressive vocal harmonies, some ripping guitar solos, impressive Celtic fretwork and accents, horns, slide guitar all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm foundation. The songs themselves are short and sweet musical experiences. Noller is above the bar on all songs vocally and fills the sonic space peacefully and unobtrusively - but it's worth mentioning he knows how to puch. He also showcases much in the way of emotion and musical depth  -bith vocally and lyrically. The writing, playing, and singing abilities of Jeff Noller are amazing From Hypnotic “Kerosene” to the perfect finale statement “The World Needs Bartenders” this EP has something for just about everyone.

All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I typically don't give out 10 star ratings out to EPs. The Full length release is a more complete snapshot to judge an artists by at any given time.

Overall this latest releases from Skittish (Jeff Noller) makes its mark and then some leaving a lasting impression upon the listener. The music is clean, psychedelic, unpredictable and highly entertaining with messages that are passionate, and highly creative and unpredictable. At the end of the day – Jeff Noller is an amazing musical triple threat and possesses enough songwriting prowess  to be extremely dangerous by himself. Having said that I would recommend he drop the Skittish moniker and just call himself Jeff Noller, or find a suitable female replacement for Kyle and never look back. "The Five Stages EP" is just fun to listen to and Jeff Noller is no doubt a blast to either hang out with or check out live. This release clearly proves he’s a marquee singer/songwriter from Minnesota.

Cyrus Rhodes