Review: The OK Social Club – Nothing In Common

1nothing-in-common-artworkIf artists want to draw like children, do bands want to sound like them?

Nothing In Common comes drenched in the infectious ambition and enthusiasm of youth, buzzing with the energy that all debuts should. But the Edinburgh four-piece have old-heads on their young-shoulders after spending  the last year and a half touring the UK, refining their sound and notching up three well received singles in the process.

And their brand of tantalizing guitars and melt-in-your-mouth lyrics transfer well on to their first album. ‘Little Broken Bones’ has the right blend of pop sensibilities and beating emotions, with Raff Eragona’s vocals and sassy guitar throwaways adding sprinklings of wit to this indie number.

‘Diffidence Dance’ is perhaps their most out-there moment, moving through the gears from full band handbrake skids to high-octane guitar scratching with aplomb. Eragona’s vocals are again the cherry on top of this well-layered number, with you able to taste the truth when he admits “There’s always a way you can mess it all up/Then I’ll do that/And if there‘s a way you can make matters worse/I will find that”.

The singles still sound as fresh as when they were but glints in the band’s eyes as well. ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ is that familiar fumble after a heavy night out whilst ‘The Late 90s’ has guitar lines so sharp you could shave with them. Most recent release ‘Geezlig’ is the highlight of the album, providing equal measures of foot-tapping and chin-stroking for the patient listener.

The OK Social Club’s debut might sit in the sunlight but dig a bit deeper and you’ll also find whisperings of the blues. Unashamedly catchy, it is the sound of the band who have perfected the art of crafting three-minute songs destined to take up rent-free residence in you head. Largely upbeat without being sugar sweet and harbouring some confessional honesty without sounding trite, Nothing In Common demonstrates why they are one of the hottest properties in Scotland right now.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Maggie’s Charity Fundraiser – Electric Circus – 02/02/13

IMAG0190-300x225Starting this fundraiser for Maggie’s Centre last weekend was the criminally under-rated The Litigators. Despite only being one of their drummer’s first amped-up live outings, the four-piece rocked with their trademark style of addictive blues-rock.

Opener ‘Bluebirds’ motors along on the swoons and sways of lead singer Michael McNelly’s vocals and Daniel Hill’s beat-perfect drumming. ‘Warrior Slave’ has guitarist Danny Appolinari unleash his first of many fret-bursting licks of the evening, providing the sharp edges to this hypnotic dagger of a song. Fans-favourite ‘Optical Illusions’ brims with the same exuberance as always, with hooks so catchy they should come with a health warning.

New song ‘A Shining Light’ shows The Litigators have more strings to their bow than your average up-and-coming band, with the mesmeric number pondering purposefully before exploding into a cacophony of thundering guitars and searing vocal heat. The all too short set is brought to an end by the pounding ‘Heaven’s Walls’, which surfs the waves of sonic splendour the band fire off with such refined ease.

Next band, the Pirate Sons, changed the game entirely, taking to stage in fancy dress with their own menagerie of fans similarly adorned in the crowd. While their outfits might be fun, their music is no joke – sitting somewhere between the intensity of A Place To Bury Strangers and the dirty decadence of The Black Keys. Combining the musical mania of a Scotsman, an Englishman and a captivating New Zealander frontman, the three-piece’s set peaks during an exuberant White Stripes cover.

Headliners The Nature Boys throw the third dimension into this gig, with their young-at-heart, seasoned-pro-dynamism helping to set the Electric Circus further ablaze. The excellent ‘Two Lovers’ is a sultry post-punk number, building up with verving guitar lines before Cammy Shiels’ excitable serenade of a chorus. ‘F*ck The BNP’ sounds as sincere as it should whilst ‘Rock On’ is a perfect cocktail of gritty, grinding drums and Mark Cooper’s evergreen solos. Highlight of the set is the doom-ridden ‘Valhalla’, which is powered by the kind of bass line that could crack walnuts. Sounding as otherworldly as the home of the Gods, the song squeezes every ounce of energy from the amps and crowd.

Not only did the gig blend some flat out musical brilliance with a couple of pinches of madness and on-stage male toplessness – but it was all in the name of a good cause. You won’t see a better gig for £5.

Posted in Live Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: These Fading Polaroids – ‘The Get Down EP (Pt.1)

thesefadingpolaroids-300x300Powering in with their latest release, These Fading Polaroid’s swerve between playing hard and fast or slow and tender.

The Edinburgh four-piece are now entering their third year, with this double A-side continuing the momentum and sound they have developed after gigging across the country.

‘A Caved In Mind’ has a violent finesse to it, opening with relaxed snares and tracked vocals before exploding with an expansive guitar solo that comes drenched in exuberance and effects. The chorus proper spirals in a series of duelling vocals and high end guitars before settling down like the sea after a storm.

 ’Keep Your Promises’ is cut from a similar cloth as ‘A Caved In Mind’, sounding somewhat drawl before more vibrant guitar playing lifts the tempo. It stops and starts, before kicking up a gear with a culminating explosion of sound. Tom Exton’s drumming keeps the song anchored in reality whilst Andy Gregory’s vocals soar, proclaiming “It’s that feeling I hate the most/Clinging on to something/That might as well be a ghost”.

This double A-side reaches for the poignant side of alternative rock and gets most of the way there. Leo Bargery’s guitar playing gives the two songs an extra layer of expansiveness, helping to raise These Fading Polaroid’s sound up above many of their local contemporaries. Playing with the striking vigour of a supercharged engine, there’s definitely plenty more where this came from.

‘A Caved In Mind’ and ‘Keep Your Promises’  are available on Spotify and Bandcamp now:
http://thesefadingpolaroids.bandcamp.com/

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The OK Social Club – Gezellig

img_50b75c1931fdd.The OK Social Club

In a world of urgency, music that has been brewed over time has the power to stop you in your tracks.

After spending the last year and a half honing their sound and gigging across the country, the Edinburgh four-piece’s third single comes with more than just promise. Fully formed with Fender’s firing on all cylinders, ‘Gezellig’ is the cherry on top of the charming catchiness of their first two releases.

Straight to business with from the very first chord, lead singer Raff Eragona’s velvet voice sits seamlessly with the band’s upbeat indie. Continually complementing each other, ’Gezellig’ is the perfect blend of highs and lows.

Chris Finn’s solos never linger longer than is needed whilst drummer Jordan Harvey’s backing is driving but never overbearing. The song’s peak comes in a few fleeting seconds of calm mid-way through, when Eragona’s voice rises above this temporary lull to assert the chorus of  “Darling I was a sorry state when you found me/You shook me up and you spun me round/I will always remember that”. Perfectly in control before launching back into their freewheeling riffs – it builds not only momentum but anticipation for more.

Alas, but in just over three minutes The OK Social Club manage to throw out the kind of aerodynamic, adrenalin-fuelled sunshine rock that most bands flounder about on a whole album trying to achieve. Crucially ‘Gezellig’ has an all-important intangibility about it – combining Beach Boys vocals with Dave Davies guitars to create something completely alluring.

With debut album Nothing in Common out early next year and a prestigious spot at this year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations, The OK Social Club are doing more than just alright.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eva Petersen – Emerald Green Eyes

evapetersenemeraldgreeneyes

Who remembers The Little Flames ? There was a fleeting moment in the mid-noughties when The Wirral five-piece’s incisive-indie sounded like it could take over the world. It never.

But out of the ashes rose The Rascals, Miles Kane’s solo career and now, perhaps most excitingly of all, their laconic lead-singer’s debut album. Co-written with the iconic Echoes and The Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant, it sounds like it could be the soundtrack to the best love story never told.

Eva Petersen has a vintage voice in a modern body. Her rich vocals were always what set The Little Flames apart and what makes Emerald Green Eyes such an emotive listen. Straight from the off on opener ‘Jewelled Moon’ her enchanting voice shines through in all its velvety glory. Flanked by haunting synths, it marches on beguilingly from choral pinnacles to plateaus of anguish.

‘Too Late For Tears’ deserves as much success as Adele’s worbling has received, sounding more authentic than the majority of overproduced flak that has rotted the airwaves in 2012.

Whilst her ‘Femme Fatale’ cover is a pleasant listen, it adds little by way of getting to know the singer behind the voice, although Emerald Green Eyes’ double barrel ending of ‘Sunday Love Affair’ and ‘Melody’ more than atone for its featureless inclusion.

The former is full of atmospheric angst; rich in harps and melancholy. You can almost taste the pain in Petersen’s voice when she sings “When you look in her eyes/And you feel hypnotised/So beware/The Sunday love affair”. Lovers beware indeed.

But like an orchid Emerald Green Eyes rewards patience, with closing song ‘Melody’ the crowning moment of Petersen’s gem laden debut. It is a shimmering serenade that pivots through genres and styles, containing haunting vocals alongside some of the Bunnyman’s trademark ambient guitar playing. Sitting somewhere between post-punk and Northern Soul, it is a song that you are scared to take your eye off in case its spell is broken. Glorious.

Sergeant recently described Petersen as the greatest singer from Liverpool this century – and on the evidence of Emerald Green Eyes there are surely few who could dispute it. The richness of her voice could gild palaces, bringing some much needed luxury to the often functional world of female pop. Her bold decision to abandon the indie energy that first brought her to prominence with The Little Flames has paid dividends. Instead of entering the slog of the testosterone driven rat race, Emerald Green Eyes soars above it on waves of sonic sumptuousness. As stylish as the sixties and as soulful as the seventies – Eve Petersen should be the sound of now.

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deap Vally – End Of The World (Single)

They might look like angels but they definitely rock like the Devil.

Sounding about as un-L.A. as moonshine, the Californian duo have been perfecting their grungey-blues sound through months of hard slog around Europe and America. ‘End of the World’ is the second release from the girls and a precursor to the lo-fi leviathan that their debut album is sure to be.

Unashamed lovers of Jimmy Page (who they met backstage at this year’s Leeds Festival), the Led Zepplin axeman’s brand of power blues is the bedrock of Deap Vally’s sound. ‘End of the World’ begins with a monotone guitar and drumbeat before singer Lindsay Troy bursts this bubble with her harmonic howl of a voice.

From then on in it is a rollercoaster of West Coast fuzz and rumbling drums that could smash a ribcage. Coiling like a python, the duo’s sound is as hard hitting as a snapped Achilles tendon.  When it’s chorus drops Troy’s guitar erupts with some Mount Vesuvius size reverb as she laments how “There’s a thing I like to call it/ Brother, when you fight and you kill/You’re at war with each other/It’s the end of the world”.

Throughout it all Julie Edwards keeps a menacing rhythm on drums, unflinchingly calm at the eye of this rock ‘n’ roll storm. They are the ideal double act, with Edwards’ pulverising drums able to keep Troy’s careering colossus of a sonic joyride firmly on course.

Currently on tour with The Vaccines, God only knows what their fans will make of ‘End of the World’. Raw and rebellious, Troy’s vocals sit somewhere between the zing of Karen O and the garage growl of Alison Mosshart. Together they make a noise that is dripping in primal pizzazz whilst avoiding the dirge that so much blues-rock comes tarred in. If it really is the end of the world in 2012 then Deap Vally are going out swinging.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review – The Gold Lions – Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh – 17/11/12

If Deap Vally are taking back rock for the girls, then The Gold Lions are definitely staking their claim for the boys.

Making music that sits somewhere between the intimacy of early White Stripes and the power of The Stooges, the Edinburgh duo have being making waves following a string of recent festival performances in the city.

The opening track sums up everything The Gold Lions are about, hitting like of a howitzer shell of blues rock goodness. Their music may come drenched in the sound and soul of early ’70s Guitar Gods but they are  much more than the mere sum of their influences.

Next song ‘Dark Side’ swings like a sledgehammer, starting off with a simple drumbeat from Rupert Lee before Owen Robertson’s rugged riffs kick things into another dimension.

‘Elsie’s House’ is an altogether rawer affair, with drumming so powerful it could flay you alive. Indeed it is Lee’s volcanic energy throughout the gig that helps raise the duo up being some kind of sub-Black Keys wannabees.  Slow and steady or fast and ferocious – you’re likely to hear it all within a few bars of each other. Indeed the song has got as much tension as Felix Baumgartner’s recent space dive, with the atmosphere being built with layer upon layer of guitar fuzz before erupting into supersonic bliss.

And there is brain behind their undoubted brawn too, as the lustful ‘1000 Ships’ ably demonstrates. This howling lament drills its way into your brain with some subtle shifts in pace, boxing the crowd in with some Spector-esque walls of sound. Packed with more than its fair share of good advice for young Lothario’s, the ever true “You’re like an apple/Whose fallen from a tree/So much potential/Brought down by gravity” is perhaps its slickest.

It’s no easy feat to keep a crowd dancing for an entire gig but it’s one The Gold Lions manage from the first snare to the final crackles of reverb. In fact Robertson has caned it that hard that his guitar has paid the ultimate price and calls for an encore have to be ignored. Combining primal power with precision soundscapes he better find himself a new axe soon – The Gold Lions have plenty more venues to shred.

Posted in Live Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment