Imagine that, a totally free EP. You certainly can't go wrong to at least give it a spin, and, in fact, you'd probably be wrong to miss this one.
Matt Pryor really hasn't disappointed me much. I hold the first two Get Up Kids albums in fairly high regards, and most of the New Amsterdams' catalouge is very respectable. He has a great voice; it's soothing yet cracked with tension, making it a perfect pairing for an acoustic guitar. Pryor offers an extensive look into the 'behind the scenes' of this particular record on the New Amsterdams' site, particularly the timeframe it was written and recorded during -- the recent break-up of the infamous Get Up Kids.
Musically and lyrically, this offers some of the best work of the New Amsterdams to date. While Worse for the Wear hinted at more of a country or full band vibe, Killed or Cured is stripped down, exposing the obvious wounds the lyrics are discussing at face value.
The EP goes through many moods, starting with a more uptempo and practically optimistic "Wears So Thin," going next to the poppy yet disarming "Watch the World Cave In," the drunken bar-room apologies of "Heaven Sent," the dismal and aptly titled "Drinking in the Afternoon," and the nearly cathartic "Strangled by the Thought." The final song is easily the strongest, as it follows the patterns of some of the better songs Pryor has written through the years: Poetic, wishful thinking accompanied by a growing tune that ends in that almost-but-not-quite-a-yell voice that he has brought to a near perfection.
While I'd give "Strangled..." a perfect score, the rest of the songs go in and out of a broad range of interest. While they are all strong, they also have a shelf life. This isn't really an EP for all occasions, and the bad part about having such a short album with so many moods in such a short time is that there is a fairly big disconnect factor. If this were to be the full-length that was planned, there might be a little more coherence, but as it stands, it seems more of a random collection and less like a finished product. But that's probably why it's free.
I realize that on a punk rock site, the acoustic and depressing melodies by a singer known for a band in the history books of 'emo' don't make this everyone's cup of tea. But, it's free and available for download at the Amsterdams' website, and chances are if you've liked the songs this guy has written in the past, you'll like what he has to offer now.