Strip Mall takes next step in their evolution with ‘EP2’


After a band or musician puts out their debut record, the artistic landscape becomes wide open. There’s numerous routes to go down and various progressions to venture through while creating the follow up to the previous release. It’s also a tricky situation due to consciously maintaining the initial sonic foundation and branching off of it without going off the creative deep end and alienating your established audience. For the Providence via Warwick math rock trio Strip Mall, this is the case with their second EP, aptly titled “EP2”, that’s due out on July 7. Guitarist & vocalist Vinnie Ortez, drummer Jack Anderson and bassist Nick English have more of a hard-hitting approach this time around versus their debut EP that came out back in 2021.

The new EP is a near-completely DIY effort by the band with Ortez, Anderson and English recording all of the songs on their own. To supply the finishing touches, they had a friend of theirs help out with the mixing and mastering.

“The songs on ‘EP2’ definitely feel like a slightly new direction for us from the first album, a little harder and more straight to the point,” Anderson says about the upcoming release. “We’re so excited to finally put 'em out and for everyone to hear the new era of Strip Mall and what we’ve been up to lately. If you’ve been to a show recently you probably know most of these, but hearing them recorded is pretty exciting. We recorded everything ourselves at our homes and had Mike Nelson at Parkridge Recording Company in Knoxville, Tennessee mix and master these. He’s been our go-to guy for a while and we put all our trust in him.”

“False Starts” starts the record off with a cool counteraction between Ortez’s guitar and Anderson’s drumming serving as the catalyst for the instrumentation and arrangements. Having a melodic vibe is “Bring Backs'' while Ortez’s voice has more of a presence as well. “Never, Not Really”, which is the lead single off of “EP2”, has a similar introduction to the previous track but it’s a prime example of how cohesive Ortez, Anderson and English can be when they’re playing music together. I like the romantic storytelling within “Sept Nov” a lot, it’s an excellent example of the songwriting depth that Strip Mall is aiming to capture. Concluding it all is “Montana Sage'' with great riffs, rapid rhythms and fantastic beats.

To grab a copy of “EP2” when it comes out, the way to do so is by hitting up Strip Mall’s party for it on the following night after its release at Buttonwoods Brewery on 530 Wellington Avenue in Cranston. Along with Strip Mall headlining, Brooklyn prog-punks Rest Ashore and local rock & rollers Twin Brook and Examiner will be rounding out the bill. It’s obviously 21 plus to drink some of Buttonwoods’ delicious brews and there will be some scrumptious food available for purchase as well. Word is that the upcoming show is going to be outside, so be prepared to have a blast in the summer sun. While you’re there, don’t forget to grab a copy of the new record to plug in, press play and give a listen after attending.


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