Monday, 27 February 2012

Backyards - Yellowire - the Sea Kings - Jeremiah Ferrari (Reviews)

Backyards – If You’re Scared EP
(Self release)

The ‘If You’re Scared’ EP is the Leeds based quintet’s debut, and it’s certainly an organic affair. It has a real whiff of old school analogue recording about it, and after several listenings I’m still yet to decide if this is to its benefit or detriment.
If a click track was used here it’s by no means obvious and it’s patently not been near a drop in or auto-tune, a touch which would surely have been employed by many. This, and at times I find the drum production a little harsh and invasive, a trait of many 80’s indie recordings. And yet, it still has something….  

Don’t get me wrong, the songs are not likely to reach out and grab you by the throat, but give them a little time and they just may burrow into your subconscious.

Comparisons to Idlewild and Arcade Fire are fanciful in the first and perhaps a little more accurate in the latter, if only due to the use of violin and lengthy instrumental sections. We’d prefer to go back a little further here at Eartwister and suggest they listen to the Railway Children’s ‘Brighter’ amongst others (there’s certainly some vocal similarities) and maybe even some Pale Fountains, swapping the trumpet for fiddle of course.

Our favourite tracks off the EP are ‘Call to Arms’ which grows slightly bigger balls than its stable-mates and ‘White Horses’, which has a vocal charm and simply contains the strongest hooks.
We would advise however, that for their next visit to the studio (rather than going it alone) they find a sympathetic producer to iron out some of those wrinkles. Remember, on a face they add character; on a shirt they’re simply scruffy. You get the point, right?

Yellowire  - 7 Hours to Sunlight - Single (Id Records)

Released on a small indie label based in Brooklyn NY I can only presume that Yellowire no longer have the major backing that’s supported previous releases. That said, it doesn’t seem to have impacted on the slick production you’ve come to expect from Ol Beach and the boys.

‘7 hours to Sunlight’ is a typical serving of anthemic indie rock not far removed from Snow Patrol and Coldplay et al. All chimey guitars drenched in reverb and delay herald a multi harmony chorus that’s well conceived if rather short on surprises.

In truth there is not a lot more to say. It’s a very pleasant song built for Radio 2, which is surely where its audience resides. I would say with this in mind that Ol’s pleas of “Let’s get together and start a revolution” are likely to fall on slightly deaf ears. After all, the car needs washing, the bins will have to go out and the kids are always in need of new shoes.

The Sea Kings – Some Dark Matters EP – (Iffy Folk Records)

“Our EP will be revered by musicologists and historians in 100 years as being a pivotal and inspirational game changer” say The Sea Kings.

Well let’s see.

Unless you subscribe to the save the best till last doctrine the track order of ‘Some Dark Matters’ is somewhat askew. I say this as closing song ‘Tooth and Nail’, a brooding slab of rock ‘n’ roll is by some margin the best on offer here. However, even this contribution with its marching bass plays a kind of second cousin twice removed to Kasabian’s ‘Empire’.

You get the impression that The Sea Kings believe their music to be darker than it actually is, but Brian Canning’s vocals rarely stray from simple melodic lines, so Ian Curtis he certainly is not. If only the same could be said for Nicky Kelly’s guitar lines. Too often they seem under considered, as in opening track ‘Orphan Martyr Saint’. Here the lead line has the feeling of a part that was jammed in a rehearsal room and simply stuck without any further thought, all unnecessary noodles that do little to enhance the song by either hook or structure. Just because you can Nicky, doesn’t mean you should. Elsewhere the drums and bass are as solid as you’d expect and the lyrics show a certain dour sense of humour which will divide people in equal measure. 

It’s by no means the worst thing I’ve listened to this week, but the school report would probably read disruptive in class, delusions of grandeur, and could try harder.  Our advice would be to listen to tracks 4 and 2 in that order, then go and put a Pixies record on (extremely loud) just for the hell of it.

Jeremiah Ferrari – Mindless Riots – Single (self release)

In ‘Mindless Riots’ Jeremiah Ferrari offer up an unashamed slice of modern British Reggae with pop sensibilities and a youthful swagger.  The song is built round a single hook that the Wigan based quartet push home to full advantage and then some.  

Ryan Barton’s vocals have a real soulful quality and ease of delivery; and there’s just enough Jamaican accent present to add an air of authenticity whilst not pushing their luck on geographical terms, think perhaps Finlay Quaye without the nasal drawl. Marley of course is the obvious influence to site but in truth it’s more Steel Pulse, and the occasional employment of overdriven guitar may just be enough to engage a wider audience.

If I have a criticism, it’s that the lyrics at times are a little naive (given the subject matter) if not predictable, not quite ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ then.  And I can’t help feeling that the boys failed to fully explore the melodic possibilities, perhaps with backing vocals if nothing else. Traditionalists will probably cry out for a bit of growling trombone to-boot. The kind delivered with such aplomb by Rico and Don Drummond over the years and guaranteed to make an old rude boy happy. But this is pop music we’re talking about and with that in mind ‘Mindless Riots’ serves its purpose. In this new digital age of ours I’m sure it will find an audience, the question will be how big? 

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