Brew Records / Dance To The Radio Split

Half is borderline dismal, half good verging on great.

This split release sees the coming together of two of Leeds most prominent and well respected labels, Dance To The Radio and Brew. Whilst DTTR are known primarily for all things indie, Brew occupy the heavier end of the spectrum. If it has a big ol’ riff and was made up north, chances are Brew had a hand in it somewhere along the line. So this release should be the perfect way for each label to showcase their ethos and their hopes for the future right? Sadly, the reality doesn’t quite work out like that.

The EP starts off in surprisingly muted fashion with ‘Escape’ by Dolphins. Muted in the sense that it’s quite a dull song. Despite being less than two minutes long, the feedback drenched opening morphs into a chugging stoner riff. The idea behind stoner rock, to these ears at least was that the song builds over a long period of time, till the repetition of the riff and the heaviness of the track seeps into you. A song as short as this should do a lot with its’ time, grab your attention from the get go. Nothing about this song stands out, from the done-far-too-often-half-shouted-half-spoken vocals to the dismal lack of invention on display. A bizarre choice, not only to put on the EP but particularly to open it with.

This is only highlighted by the next track, which is labelled as a cover of Kasabians’ ‘Club Foot’ by Blacklisters. Having listened to this well over a dozen times now, it’s still unclear whether this is an elaborate in-joke by the band or whether it’s a genuine cover. They sound nothing alike. At all. What we can tell you is that it’s great. The contrast between the spiky, blistering guitars of the verse and the sludge-like heaviness of the chorus works exceptionally well, with the demented squawks and howls of the vocalist leaving a lasting impression.

Castrovalva next with ‘Senorita’. They’ve fearsome reputation locally, and for the first third of the track this is justified. Breakneck drums and bass duelling reminiscent of DFA79 at their most aggressive. Then it all goes horribly, horribly wrong. The cheesiest synthline this side of 1991 drops and it starts sounding like a Hadouken! B-Side. From their second album. The self-mocking attempt at barbershop harmony suggests that this was the band pissing around in the studio rather than a genuine insight into the future direction of the band. Hopefully, anyway, otherwise someone really needs to have a word.

The best is certainly saved for last though, with the first official release from Hawk Eyes. Formerly known as Chickenhawk (which, as an aside, was a much cooler name), where on ‘Modern Bodies’ the band dealt in a metal/rock hybrid, on ‘Yes Have Some’ the band take a more alternative, almost art rock approach to music. Reminiscent of Liars-era… erm, Liars. The squealing guitars laid over the top of the chugging riff should be an example to Dolphins on how this sort of thing should be done. The chorus’ refrain of ‘Bring it right back, take it right back, bring it bring it’ is infectious too.

The EP as a whole is not the best. Half of it is borderline dismal, half of it is good verging on great. Download the Blacklisters and Hawk Eyes tracks, but stay well, well away from the Dolphins and Castrovalva ones.

Tags: Reviews, EP Reviews

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