Runaround Kids – No Dreams / Falling Into Better Hands (Philophobia Music)
Fresh from appearances at this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals; propping up the BBC introducing stage amongst some of the country’s hotly tipped newcomers, you’d be forgiven for thinking this new found attention might have gone to this Wakefield trio’s heads.
Thankfully not, as this double AA side proves Runaround Kids are all business. ‘No Dreams’ is an energetic and confident display of the band’s distinctive lo-fi garage rock, with only the subtlest of hints giving away their local flavour. ‘Falling Into Better Hands’ is much more direct, launching immediately into verse, before generous helpings of glorious distortion follow.
It might still be early days, but it’s hard to see any reason as to why they can’t continue their growth into one of the UK’s most promising propects. Well worthy of the chase.
Her Name Is Calla – The Quiet Lamb (Denovali Records)
It’s hard to even begin describing an act such as the Leeds, York & Leicester collective that is Her Name Is Calla without using such clichéd terms as atmospheric and epic. Not that ‘The Quiet Lamb’; the band’s second full length to date, isn’t worthy of such praise; as the 12 tracks on offer here may be some of the most challenging, ambitious and accomplished efforts I’ve ever heard from a ‘local’ band. It’s just far too easy to throw around such terms when dealing with a band of this genre.
Opener ‘Moss Giant‘ is a clear sign of the band’s intentions; anyone wanting a quick fix of music will be disappointed, as this five minute foray takes its time to build slowly from gentle ambience. From there on each track is its own journey – with ‘Long Grass’ and ‘Thief’ being the most memorable, alongside the endurance test that is the 17 minutes and 6 seconds of ‘Condor and River’. It would be far too naïve and sloppy to label this as pretension and over-indulgence; as there are clear ideas here that the band execute with confidence and passion.
However, for all the thought gone in …Calla suffer an all too familiar failing of post rock and progressive genres; running well over an hour, by the end my attention has wandered. Whilst the closing trio of ‘The Union’ is a clever premise; each track sharing a similar Spaghetti Western feel yet remaining distinctive, placed at the end of the album it just comes across a little bloated.
Regardless, ‘The Quiet Lamb’ will certainly resonate with anyone with the aforementioned genre leanings. You can’t deny the musicianship on display, and although it may not be the most instantaneous album, with time, and numerous plays ‘The Quiet Lamb’ slowly shows its teeth.
Under the Bus Station Clock – Various (Philophobia Music)
20 different bands. 20 different tracks. A little daunting, but when faced with this second annual compilation from the increasingly impressive Philophobia Music any doubts soon disappear.
This latest offering from the Wakefield based label offers a mix of the good, the not so bad, and quite frankly, the odd. The Bambinos’ effort ‘When The Weathers Wrong’ is the first to grab my attention; the quartet’s strikingly high-pitched vocals proving very memorable – Wild Beasts be warned. Elsewhere there’s a naive charm to Salvage My Dream’s short-lived but impactful flurry ‘Cost of Living’, likewise with Michael Ainsley’s delightfully whimsical ‘Slip Smash’.
However, it is the more downbeat tracks that standout amongst an otherwise fine selection that showcases a thriving alt rock scene. St Gregory Orange’s ‘Pan Away and Fade to Black’ and Harry Rhodes’ ‘Twitching Deep and Cursing Sweet’ battle it out to be the most ambitious on offer; both sublimely produced, whilst Piskie Sits ‘Sweet Little Weasel’ is effortlessly cool and accomplished.
Cleverly left till last is Gimp’s ‘Candid Squash’: clocking in at over eight minutes it really wouldn’t fit anywhere else. But by that point I’m already won over. If most record labels are grateful just to have one or two hidden gems amongst dozens of would-bes, Philophobia Music can consider themselves very lucky indeed.