Album Review: “The Mighty Seed” by This Way to the EGRESS

This Way to the EGRESS is the greatest (and most eclectic) band you’ve never heard of. Hailing from the Tri-State Area, this delightfully dark cocktail of vaudeville kitsch, folkish klezmer, and ragtime swing is comprised of five full-time members and “an ever-rotating cast of horn players,” whose unique sound caught the ear of this unassuming beginner DJ.

EGRESS has been featured on my show, Something Wicked, many times. All the songs I have played have been off their second album, The Mighty Seed (2013), and only recently have I given it a thorough listening. Goodness, am I glad I did!

The Mighty Seed is an album with style: A hopelessly hopeful, drunken, schizophrenic style that conjures up images of hazy speak easies and boyishly charming tramps. This aesthetic is set with the opening track, “Clarence”, and is carried through with the following “M.I.A” and “Pocket Full of Change” (the latter has a clever use of the tambourine to resemble the sound of loose change). “Hop Town” features the mournful but powerful voice of Sarah Shown, one of EGRESS’s singers. This song made me want to wrap a feather boa around my neck and lounge over a piano. Lord knows that piano would have eventually been smashed to bits, though, because I loved the upbeat banjo and trumpets that accompanied Shown’s melancholic voice.

“Mr. Green” is one of my favorites off the album. It paints a portrait of an anti-hero that would not be out of place in an Edgar Allen Poe story, and features the best musical build up in the entire set. Lead singer Taylor Galassi sells the creepy narrator act like an experienced showman, and the twist at the end is one of my favorite tropes in all Dark Romantic history (Besides, the lyrics are just weird fun. I particularly like the line “But he's looking through you out into the hallways of his madness and the Casa Blanca scenes”).

“Night Gal” is an instrumental piece that follows “Mr. Green” and leads into the next track, “Caged Bird.” Featuring Shown on vocals again, she sings of a woman scorned over some fuzz that took me back to the days when radio was in its infancy. The empowering lyrics and old-timey sound make for a pleasant contrast. 

“Live Through Your Strings,” “Pound Yer Bones,” and “6 Count Swing” are what I can only describe as morbid madness, and they lead into “Liza’s Song," a ballad reminiscent of the songs from my golden CanCon goth calf, Johnny Hollow. However, after a lineup of strong numbers, “Lyle’s Tale” just… happens. It’s my least favorite, and I would argue its repetitive motifs and lyrics aren’t terribly interesting.

But that’s okay, because the next and final song makes up for it in more ways than one.

“Hava’s Lament” closes out “The Mighty Seed”, and it is my absolute favorite. I call it the “It’s Fun to be Poor” song, and I can’t get enough of it. With a jaunty, accordion-led melody, and lyrics both achingly sincere and satirically irreverent, it’s a strong finish to a great album. I have unabashedly danced to “Hava” in my kitchen while stirring lentil soup, and I will continue to do so for as long as I have legs to stand on. It ties the album together perfectly, and it’s one of the main reasons why I will award The Mighty Seed by This Way to the EGRESS a solid 8/10.

Brittany Wright is the host of Something Wicked on CJLO, airing every Monday evening at 10:00 PM.