Every review I’ve read about Lexington, KY garage rock upstarts In Endeavors mentions the Strokes, and so will this one. I remember a time, at the start of their career around the turn of the century, when Julian Casablancas and company were not universally accepted—adored by the critics but dismissed by some of the hoi polloi as cocksure and overhyped. Yet the staying power of the music and the Strokes themselves (not to mention a venerable live show) helped them become an institution and make revivalist rock tyros such as In Endeavors possible. They might consider sending them a fruit basket or a cheese plate at some point. Just a suggestion.
Lexington is a big city with fairly diverse musicians, though many of them fall on the spectrum from hardcore punk to radio rock, a divide that seems to shrink yearly. It’s not surprising that In Endeavors arose from such a scene; their sound essentially consists of the Strokes’ strutting rock ‘n roll infused with a little pop-punk brashness like a neutered Yellowcard. The five band members appear to be decent musicians who can navigate tricky passages (though they don’t always choose to) without breaking a sweat, most evidently on the EP’s opener and easy trump card, “The Move”. But the unoriginality is so omnipresent and distracting that it’s difficult to judge In Endeavors strictly on their own merits. Theirs is the all-too-familiar story of young bands, comprised of earnest people, who tread water in an idol worship whirlpool before gaining the courage and surefootedness to hoist themselves out of it. So while You’ve Got Your Friends, I’ve Got Mine is not a debut—they released an EP in 2008 entitled Thoughts, with no appreciable differences save for lower fidelity—it sure feels like one.
In Endeavors perform constantly and seem to occupy a place in the hearts of Lexington’s indie faithful for that reason. I’ve gathered from videos and fan reactions that they kick up a righteous din live, but their firecracker energy sounds deadened in the studio. I picture “Private Eye”‘s emo riff and the title track’s singalong chorus trying to bust free from Duane Lundy’s so-so production, longing for the green fields of loud mics, unencumbered amps and a reactive audience. The same applies to the vocals of Gerren Reach, whose overly familiar off-key sneer is appropriate enough for the stage but way out of its depth in these clean environs. Of course, this may have been plucked from the Strokes as well, or their neighbors Franz Ferdinand, the White Stripes, or the Arctic Monkeys. Herein lies the “local band” appeal of In Endeavors, at least for those who call Kentucky home: All the stars you know and love, brought to you within an arm’s reach. The rest of us holding the CD should be so lucky.