Cardinal by Eleanor Stenner photo


Energetic pop rock and soaring contemporary church music meet, outside the sanctuary, on Cardinal’s debut EP.


Founding band members Ethan Asters (lead vocals, rhythm guitar and keys) and Brent Beachtel (lead guitar and backup vocals) met at Samford University two years ago. They began their work together with songs Asters had already written. Drummer and church musician Kyle Carpenter, who can also be heard on the Jeremy Moore EP, joined the pair within a year. Russell Blackburn, who is with the Browncoats, Matt Carroll and Jeremy Moore as well, is currently playing bass guitar with the permanent Cardinal members.


Beachtel, also a barista at Octane, jokes that the band sings about “girls in Ethan’s past,” and is inspired by the “Brit-pop” sound. The members’ contemporary worship background is unmistakable in their ambient and melodic baseline sound. Colorful streaks reminiscent of Coldplay, the Killers and U2 develop in respective tracks.


“I write a little bit darker music than Ethan does,” says Beachtel. “It forces him to get outside of the box a bit and write something he isn’t used to.”


The band’s self-titled EP was recorded at the Bates Brothers Recording Studio last May. Cardinal only had seven days to cut its tracks, but saw the small window as an opportunity. “We didn’t have a lot of time to experiment,” says Beachtel, “which was cool, because it forced us to know what we were going to play before going into the studio.”


Dr. Joel Davis, a musical composition professor with Samford’s School of the Arts, assisted by local musician Preston Lovinggood, produced the record. The EP was released Oct. 18 with a concern and party at the United Christian Fellowship house on Mountain Brook Community Church’s campus.


Momentum is starting to build for the band, although the members still feel there is a long way to go. “I think a lot of people here [in Birmingham] don’t really pay attention to local bands, when there is a lot of talent,” says Beachtel. In the future, Cardinal hopes to record a full-length album. The immediate goal, though, is to play more local shows and write more songs.


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Photo by Eleanor Stenner.