Review: The Casket Lottery’s The Door EP / Nathan Ellis’s self-titled EP

The Casket Lottery / Nathan Ellis: The Door / Nathan Ellis (No Sleep, 8/7/12)

“The Door” (The Casket Lottery) & “Balance Beam” (Nathan Ellis)

The Casket Lottery: “The Door”

Nathan Ellis: “Balance Beam”

As a name, Nathan Ellis is unassuming, also held by the random college professor, fire chief, and publicist. As a musician, Nathan Ellis might still be unassuming, unwilling to play up his accomplishments, but his list is no joke: The Casket Lottery, Coalesce, Able Baker Fox, Jackie Carol, and now solo singer-songwriter material.

Nathan Ellis: s/t EP

This week adds two more short releases to his name: his first official solo release as well as the first new material from indie-rock trio-turned-quintet The Casket Lottery since 2003.

Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, The Casket Lottery is one of those old “true” indie-rock bands — you know, the kind that actually rock. But on both of these new EPs, Ellis has a new edge. It’s not heaviness or abrasiveness, but rather an ability to let loose.

“The Door,” from the upcoming Real Fear, finds the expanded Lottery bursting with new layers — piano/keyboard melodies, vocal harmonies, and guitars galore. Similarly, Ellis’ solo debut is much more than a guy with a guitar; “Balance Beam” is a layered and multifaceted single, with overdubs entangling themselves while Ellis croons, wails, and shouts.

The self-titled solo EP ends with a cover of Elvis Costello‘s “The Comedians” (also covered by Roy Orbison), and it leaves us anticipating Ellis’ future — both Real Fear, coming in November, and what we now know about his solo potential.

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