Category Archives: The Skinny

Star Wheel Press – Life Cycle of a Falling Bird

When a lead singer possesses such a distinctive burr, it’s often easy to overlook everything that sits behind it. Not so on Life Cycle of a Falling Bird, the parentheses friendly-debut album from Aberfeldy-based Star Wheel Press. For while frontman Ryan Hannigan’s larynx purrs like Aidan Moffat on the happy pills, the songs on here are so finely crafted, so wonderfully nuanced, it’s but another instrument in a superb alt-country orchestra.

Hannigan is joined by a medley of strings: banjo, slide guitar, pedal steel and fiddle on 15 literate and buoyant tracks, which are melodically simple, but beautifully composed. There’s a touch of Whiskeytown circa Stranger’s Almanac about opening track Railway Lines (the North Carolinans’ spectre hangs heavy over much of the record), and Betamax Waltz is a real lyrical treat – funny, clever and impossible to shake, hours after spinning.

4/5

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Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking it Easy Album Review


Those familiar with the music of Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, won’t be surprised by the title of his first batch of original songs since 2007’s exemplary Pride. They may, however, be thrown slightly off guard by the opening track; a rollicking, horn-led ode to Alabama. But Houck hasn’t completely forsaken the lazy, introspective Americana that earned him comparisons to Will Oldham and Neil Young. It’s more like he’s got half a cheek slouched on the couch, the other attempting a drunken waltz on his porch – case in point: penultimate track, Heaven Sitting Down.

Here’s To Taking It Easy is more buoyant than almost anything Houck’s released before, but the highlights occur when he reverts to type, like on the meditative Hej, Me I’m Light and album highlight and closer, Los Angeles. Ultimately, Here’s to Taking it Easy struggles for an identity: unsure whether it should embrace the light or slump down into the melodious murk once again.

3/5

Written for The Skinny

Citay – Dream Get Together Album Review

Though they’re often lumped in with the freak-folk movement, there is something decidedly proggier about San Francisco’s Citay than, say, Devendra Banhart. With their third album the nebulous sextet take their cosmic noodling to another level. Before coming home to roost with an excellent, elongated take on Broadcast’s Tugboat, Dream Get Together is a trippy, riff heavy leviathan. The songs, though peppered with snippets of subtle harmonies, generally gravitate towards extended jams. Occasionally, they draw from Frisco contemporaries (see the perfectly chilled Mirror Kisses), but the balance is tilted towards the giants of 70s prog (Careful With That Hat and Hunter). Most tracks, no matter how gently they enter, don’t exit before packing in a wailing solo or two, but still there’s little self indulgence. No track outstays its welcome and the excellently deployed soft-loud dynamics help soften the progressive edges, lending Dream Get Together an accessibility not normally associated with the genre.

4/5

Written for The Skinny

The Dirty Dozen – January 2010

From George Formby to Mariachi horns, this month’s Dozen is as weird as that time Steve Coogan dated Courtney Love. Finbarr Bermingham casts a scrutinous eyeball over January’s singles.

If, like us, you intend 2010 to be soundtracked by only the finest sonic arrangements, then the lower echelons of the Dirty Dozen should be avoided at all costs. London quartet Jarmean? manage to grate on levels previously unthinkable with Mind the Gap (*, 18 Jan). It sounds a bit like the One Foot in the Grave theme tune, as sung by George Formby. Jarmean? Um, no ta. Welsh emo-mongers Lostprophets fare little better. Where We Belong (*, 4 Jan) is billed as a “return to their roots”. Which is all well and good, but most of us are savvy enough to realise that their roots were steeped in pish. Downpatrick rockers Ash, on the other hand, have a much more illustrious history, but their decline has been marked. The trio’s much vaunted disownment of what they did rather well – making albums – has resulted in a series of substandard singles. The Neon Neon aping Space Shot (**, 18 Jan), all laser-effects and tinny production, fails to raise the bar.

Equally, Mixtapes and Cellmates’ Soon (**, 25 Jan) offers little in the way of innovation. Sure, the singer’s got a tasty falsetto and some decent guitar work makes it mildly enjoyable, but even after five consecutive plays, it’s difficult to remember anything about it. Self-professed “online hip-hop phenomenon” Charlie Sloth fails to fulfil his own hype(rbole) with One More Drink (**, 18 Jan). A lightweight tale of drinking, girls and fighting is utter humdrum. We’re sure we’ve heard this all before, and it’s been a while since Ice Cube showed us the way. Speaking of déjà vu, that Biffy Clyro’s latest effort, Many of Horror (**, 18 Jan), complete with OTT strings and anthemic, melodramatic chorus, sounds vaguely like every other stadium rocker they’ve churned out of late. We would say “can do better” but at this stage it’s uncertain whether they’re of the mind to try.

Perhaps the baton can be passed to The King Hats. The Glaswegians’ debut single I Was The Riot at the Art School Last Night (***, 4 Jan) is an altogether more refreshing prospect. It pairs the vibrancy of a ‘Jetpacks track with the edge you once expected from Biffy, and helps rescue the Dozen from abomination. Paolo Nutini seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Having toyed with the idea of becoming Cat Stevens, he’s now decided he’s a seasoned reggae virtuoso. The thing is, on the entertaining 10/10 (***, 11 Jan), he’s pretty convincing. Whatever next, Paolo? A hair metal number? Doubt (***, 4 Jan) by Delphic brings an interesting, if not wholly entrancing twist to proceedings. An excellent, broken-vocal intro leads into what, but for synth overkill and an overwrought chorus, would’ve been a Hot Chip-esque electro-stomper.

Continuing the electro theme, singer-songwriter Ben Dalby’s Doctor Can (****, 18 Jan) has a deliciously 80s feel about it; the chorus wouldn’t sound out of place on a Soft Cell record. We’re not sure when the wheels will fall off that particular revival, but if they keep ‘em coming like this, we’ll keep welcoming them with open arms. Yeasayer’s return is one of the most heralded of 2010. Ambling Alp (****, 4 Jan) maintains the kitchen-sink style production of yore, but it’s more dancefloor-friendly than anything on All Hour Cymbals. Chris Keating’s vocals are higher in the mix and the chorus is positively rousing. Could this be the Brooklyn band’s first proper hit?

They are trumped, however, by the quietly unassuming musings of Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers, whose superb Draw a Line (****, 4 Jan) is the pick of this month’s batch. The irresistible horn section, in the ilk of Calexico, perfect harmonies and gruff vocals of Ali Downer are more akin to the dustbowls of Arizona than the damp streets of Glasgow. An inspired track.

Singles Column written for The Skinny

Video: Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers – Draw a Line (Live @ The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh)

http://www.youtube.com/v/siQq9syk41Y&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

Eels – End Times Album Review


E marks his divorce with another unflinchingly honest album

Eels’ last outing, Hombre Lobo, was a concept album centred on a werewolf. Having exposed so much of himself in the years previous, Mark ‘E’ Everett tried to shelter his personal life from the limelight. Just six months on, though, he’s stepped back into the glare. End Times is a break-up album which reverts to his trademark autobiographical style. Sometimes, like on Gone Man, E’s defiant – ready to face the world alone. Mostly, though, proceedings take a turn for the melancholic; and few do melancholy quite like this protagonist. Litanies for those long gone (I Need a Mother) are found amongst the lonely – but lovely – tales of heartache. E’s hermetic lifestyle is addressed on Little Bird, and album highlight A Line in the Dirt revisits the lush brass and ivory instrumentation of his Blinking Lights era. Although such lofty heights aren’t sustained throughout, End Times is a satisfying return to E’s beautiful blues, and it’s good to have him back.

3/5

Written for The Skinny

Five of the Best: #7: Dave Kerr

Just a couple more of these to come now, and this one is from Dave Kerr, Music and Online Editor of The Skinny and Commandant of the checked shirt brigade. Despite being the busiest man in the Northern Hemisphere, Dave occasionally finds the time to squeeze out some words for Drowned in Sound, The List and The Big Issue. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas.

At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)

When I first heard it

September 2000. I bought the One Armed Scissor single after hearing it in the old Virgin in Dundee and – judging by the state of the songs they dared to call b-sides – it was obvious an exceptional album was in the post. Britpop was over and nu-metal had become depressingly dominant in its wake. Rage Against the Machine had just called it quits, but here was this punk band with a similar energy on this crusade to stop circle pits. My mate Brian brought the album over to my house with a few cans the week it came out; he was well acquainted with it by Friday and played Rolodex Propaganda all night (the tune with Iggy Pop ghosting Cedric Bixler and Jim Ward over the chorus).

Why I love it

With the exception of The Doors, Cream, Hendrix and James Brown, this album opened my eyes to music that was much older than I was. I enjoyed a lot of grunge as a teenager, but most of its proto-punk influences left me cold until these guys came along. Bands like MC5 and The Stooges somehow made more sense once I’d taken in ATD-I’s back catalogue, it was all in the attitude.

What it reminds me of

The worst post-gig tinnitus I’ve ever had – The Arches, Glasgow, December 2000.

Standout track

Quarantined.

Deftones – White Pony (2000)

When I first heard it

Utterly steaming, some time in late 2000. An old girlfriend had gotten me into Deftones a few years before and although I was blown away by Around the Fur in its day I just didn’t enjoy much metal at the time — ‘nu’ or otherwise. But a good friend and accomplished musician who exclusively listened to the Beatles up until that point came rolling in the door clutching this new piece of plastic one day, professing White Pony to be “the next level.” How could I not listen to the album that single-handedly jolted this man out of the 60s?

Why I love it

Forget King Diamond’s kick-in-the-balls falsetto, this is the closest thing to a heavy metal opera I’ve ever heard. Terry Date’s production is characteristically clean, which helps project these profound impressions of terror, violence, tragedy and euphoria. Chino Moreno’s basically chasing you down with a scalpel for 53 minutes and you live to tell the tale, soundtracking that ordeal is a band making progress on its own terms; hiding the ball and distancing itself from the other players. Their drummer Abe Cunningham once told me they were in the business of “making hits for another time”, as though they were only presently misunderstood. Their debut might not have aged well, but White Pony still feels like a thing of the future.

What it reminds me of

American Psycho. Also, seeing them play Edinburgh Corn Exchange a few months after the album came out. The band walked on to Laura Palmer’s Theme and it’s the only time I’ve felt as though the clinical ambience of the venue somehow lent itself to the occasion — chills for weeks.

Standout track

Knife Prty.

DJ Shadow – The Private Press (2002)

When I first heard it

June 2002, I recall buying it from the old Dundee FOPP the day before buggering off to work in Arizona for the summer. I’d converted every penny I had into dollars but wasn’t sure I’d find many decent record shops out in the desert, thus parted with 13 of my last 20 British pounds.

I was pensive on first listen. Having spent so much time hammering Endtroducing, UNKLE, the Cut Chemist collaborations and anything I could find by Quannum, Shadow was up on a pedestal in my book. The late 90s were a bit light on great music but this guy had a palette that could soundtrack any aspect of your life, so expectations were weighty. At the same time, I couldn’t quite see how Shadow would find a way to stay relevant in 2002 because so many copyists had come and gone since ‘96. Before warming to it (considerably), first impressions were – in all my hip-hop purist snobbery – that Josh Davis was making a play for Moby’s king of the coffee table anthem status. The 02 advert didn’t help.

Why I love it

Of course, I look like an arsehole saying that now; I’m listening to the album for the first time in a few years as I write this and still hear fresh nuances dripping from every cut. Anyone who can evoke the energy of Run DMC (Walkie Talkie) with John Carpenter (Mongrel… / …Meets His Maker) in quick succession deserves a platinum medal. The Private Press opened up a new world of found sounds to explore, in the same way a few fragmented samples from Endtroducing made me want to hear more from Kurtis Blow or watch Prince of Darkness. Sample-rich albums like these say a lot about the obsessive nature of crate digging and remind me that I’d do well to even scratch the surface of what’s out there in a lifetime.

What it reminds me of

Studying. The Private Press stayed with me through third year and made a comeback during fourth year uni finals. Nothing brings the skull back to its centre quite like a bit of You Can’t Go Home Again.

Standout track

Blood on the Motorway.

Anything else?

I wonder how much he’d charge to do a funeral.

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf (2002)

When I first heard it

Circumstances of my first encounter with this album couldn’t have been more appropriate, save for a naked Indian on peyote stepping out from behind a cactus and handing me a copy. I bought Songs for the Deaf one night in August 2002 while making the long drive back to Tucson from Scottsdale – proper desert terrain – with my friend Glover (sadly, no relation to Danny). The album wasn’t due out until the next day, but it was past midnight and we imagined some eager retailer would be stocking. So we stopped by almost every garage with a CD stand for 130 miles until arriving at the unlikely site of a 24 hour Borders (RIP). Glover ran around the shop like Anneka Rice until he found the only copy they’d ordered in. The remainder of the trip home was bittersweet – we had the album on the car stereo but it wasn’t yet mine, goddammit.

Why I love it

Rated R (2000) is a disheveled beauty and it’s difficult to rate this above it. I do so because a) I Think I Lost My Headache ends R on an endurance test and b) Songs for the Deaf is undisputable proof that supergroups can be far greater than the sum of their egos. At risk of sounding pretty auld, there’s a danger to this album that I’ve rarely heard in a band since. I’m sure they were blissfully unaware at the time, but this incarnation of the Queens smells like four remarkable talents (Homme, Oliveri, Grohl and Lanegan) finding a way to reach their collective zenith in an awesome moment they couldn’t possibly sustain.

What it reminds me of

Climbing the walls after a troublesome encounter with the philosopher’s blend.

Standout track

The Sky is Fallin’.

Johnny Cash – IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

When I first heard it

I was cold (knackered central heating) and skint in late 2002. The album came out not long after I finished reading his autobiography; though it was the first full Cash LP I’d spent any real time with and was worth the £15.99 import price HMV sold it for. Once I learned about the fascinating life the man had lead and read about the optimism that the second wind he’d found in his elderly years gave him it made me want to hear much more.

Why I love it

When I first heard Johnny Cash covering Beck and Soundgarden in the mid-90s I put it down to a bizarre novelty and have since heard people criticise the American series as Rick Rubin’s tasteless document of the man in black’s slow decline. But somewhere in-between, I’ve yet to see a more poignant music video than Mark Romanek’s treatment for Cash’s rendition of Hurt. In the context of American IV – alongside the glorious second coming implied by the title track’s biblical references and the inherently optimistic war time classic We’ll Meet Again – the effect is an uplifting counter-balance.

What it reminds me of

Trying to come to terms with the death of my good friend Brian Robertson.

Standout track

The Man Comes Around

Choice Cut Video: At The Drive In – Quarantined

http://www.youtube.com/v/SqsNR5pI6bw&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

My 2009, by Alison Mosshart

This is a wee interview I did for The Skinny a few weeks back. “Wee” being the operative word. I was on the phone to Alison Mosshart, of The Kills and The Dead Weather, for ten minutes before being interrupted by a PR woman, telling me to hurry myself up. Anyway, the results are below. 

This time last year, Alison Mosshart had every reason to be happy with her lot. Midnight Boom, The Kills’ third album, had been sighted near the summit of numerous end-of-year lists. Having toured incessantly since the age of 14, her profile was elevated to that of “rock glamour-puss” (so said, eh, JustinTimberlake.com). She couldn’t have possibly imagined, then, that a year later, she would be standing on the cusp of even greater things. But as front woman of The Dead Weather, a bonafide supergroup boasting members of Queens of the Stone Age, The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, it would appear her star is still on the ascent. Superstardom beckons, and she’s got the column inches to prove it.

On getting together with Jack White:

The Kills toured America with The Raconteurs and towards the end Jack got sick. He needed some help singing some of his songs, so I sung them. Jack asked me to get on the bus from Atlanta to Nashville with him and record in his studio, which he’d just finished building.

He’d had this record label for a long time, through which he wanted to put out 7″ recordings of everyone who came to town. So the four of us were the first to experiment in that studio: just testing it out and writing in it. It was a great experience and we just kept writing. It was weird – something was working way too well, and we didn’t stop. When I came back a few months later, after I finished Kills touring, we carried on writing.

On dealing with the UK media:

I think Jamie (Hince – The Kills, boyfriend of Kate Moss) and I escape everything we want to by working so hard. You don’t read the papers when you’re in your house working, and you don’t want to leave to get it. There’s a real element to living in a bubble that I’ve always liked. You’re more liable to hear about something that’s been written from your mom calling you to tell you than you are by reading it. Ninety per cent of media attention in general isn’t positive or creative, so it doesn’t really matter.

On the road:

The difference from what it was like when I was 14 is that you learn how to cope with it. You really learn how to live on the road. It’s like self preservation: you can get stuff done anywhere. There isn’t anywhere that I haven’t been any more. Different things take priority and doing an incredible show every night is what it’s based on. It’s not that it stops being fun; it just starts being something more rewarding. It’s a different, twisted adventure now.

On life with The Dead Weather:

“We’re not a band that parties a lot at all. There has to be something to celebrate and there’s so much to be done everyday. Sleeping is the most wonderful thing on earth. Maybe I’m getting old, but the last two years of my life have been like that. If I want to get something done or have anything else in my life – even painting a room… those things have to come before getting smashed. Working is more rewarding for me. I’m horrified that I might be a severe workaholic, and sometimes I think I maybe need to have a little more fun.”


Scottish Albums of the Decade #4: Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight


(Note, this is my number one album, but was number four on The Skinny’s list, for whom I wrote the piece)

On the face of it, their product is hardly revolutionary. Yet, for the past year and a half, The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit has been the album that simply keeps on giving. Potty-mouthed songwriter Scott Hutchison’s dog-on-heat tales of drunken love and lust could, in less capable hands, have manifested themselves as self-indulgent lad rock. But the awesome visceral force that ensured these songs came to fruition helps make them some of the best of the decade.

Hutchison’s couplets are whisky-tipped arrows to the ticker. Struggling to pull himself from the mire of a failed relationship, he veers from self-pity (Modern Leper) to denial (I Feel Better), from bitterness (Keep Your Self Warm) to lugubrious, wide-eyed misery (Poke, Floating Down The Forth). Somehow, though, the album emerges with a sense of triumph. The pessimism is overridden by an animalistic salubriousness and an unmistakably Scottish sense of gallows humour, all propelled forward by the ferocious tub-thumping of Scott’s brother, Grant.

Trying to pick an album highlight has been an exercise in futility. Over the course of 18 months, any one of ten tracks has suggested itself as a contender. The song-writing here is accumulative: borrowing from a range of styles to create a near perfect whole; a flawless indie-pop record. The dustbowl-tinged slide guitar on Good Arms Vs Bad; the unforeseen, exhilarating solo on Fast Blood; the swirling, chimerical instrumentation of Floating down the Forth; the plinking piano intro to The Twist and the overwhelmingly lovely, reverb-touched balladry of Poke are all marks of massive progression from the promising debut set, Sing The Greys.

Now, as they prepare to unleash album number three, the weight of anticipation has been increased immeasurably. But Frightened Rabbit can rest assured that The Midnight Organ Fight deserves its place amongst Scotland’s finest.

Video: Scott Hutchison – My Backwards Walk

http://www.youtube.com/v/8OFu-ylXiRQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&

2010: Year of the Rabbit? An Interview with Frightened Rabbit

As they prepare to unleash album number three, Finbarr Bermingham spoke to Frightened Rabbit to find out what 2010 holds in store.

Scott Hutchison is in Bath. Today should have been his day off. But instead, Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer and songwriter has found himself cooped up in a Somerset studio by day and answering his phone to journalists by night. The never-ending spiral of production and promotion has laid claim to the spirits of many musicians. Hutchison, though, is more philosophical than most.

“There are days when it’s awful,” he tells me as he checks into his hotel room. “But you have to catch yourself and transfer your body into an office, wearing a suit. Then you think: ‘Fuck it, I’m alright.’ Even on the worst days of touring, to me it’s preferable to any other job, so I’m not going to complain at all.”

Frightened Rabbit have been recording the B-sides for their forthcoming single, Swim Until You Can’t See Land. It precedes the March 2010 release of album number three, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which Hutchison says is “more of a storytelling record” than anything they’ve put out before. It will be speckled with autobiographical musings, but nothing to match the heart-on-sleeve opus that was Midnight Organ Fight. “In other words,” he assures us, “I didn’t spend all of winter getting pissed!”

“At its core,” Scott continues, “it’s still full of songs and for me, that’s the point of putting an album together. The way we’ve treated them is sonically quite different. It’s much more layered, but I don’t want to say grand, because the obvious mistake to make is to start going over the top. But I don’t think we have – in many ways it’s a much more restrained and confident record. I don’t think it’s grasping for your attention as much as the last record and the difference in confidence is probably why.”

The runaway success of Midnight Organ Fight was largely unforeseen and it’s a measure of the band’s progress that The Winter of Mixed Drinks is one of the most anticipated albums of 2010. For many, expectation like that is liable to breed pressure. For Hutchison, though, it all comes from within. “I just want to better myself,” he says. “When you’re demoing, writing and recording you’re away from outside influence. It’s nice forgetting about the fact that anyone’s going to hear the songs and remembering how to write to please yourself again.”

If the new songs were written to please Hutchison, then surely previous tracks were written to help him. Painfully personal accounts of a failed relationship formed the basis of Midnight Organ Fight and the album charts Scott’s progress as he attempts to get his life back on track. Frequently it’s stirring. Sometimes it’s lewd and at others it’s funny. But the only track his mother struggles to listen to is Floating Down The Forth, during which Hutchinson contemplates suicide.

“I can see why a mum might not want to hear about her son having those thoughts. But she’s extremely supportive of the rest of it. I’m sure I’ve said ‘cunt’ in front of my mum once or twice, so the language isn’t much of an issue.”

The subject of the songs, too, has been for the most part encouraging. “I know the girl in question has heard it,” explains Scott. “She told me that some days she’d enjoy it and others she just couldn’t bear listening to it at all. I understand that, she’s good enough to not complain about it and even though we don’t keep in touch anymore, for the small amount of time that we did, she was pretty supportive.”

In less than a month, Frightened Rabbit will play one of their biggest shows to date, when they take to the stage at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. New Year has, in the past, brought contrasting fortunes for the Selkirk band. Scott describes last year’s performance in Sydney as “bloody excellent” and one of the highlights of his short career. Its grandiosity is only magnified when it’s considered alongside some of their humbler experiences. Scott takes up the story:

“A couple of years before that, we played at Barfly. It was the year the George Square celebration got cancelled because of the gales and the rain, so it was bad enough trying to even get there. At the time, we were doing all our own driving and I had to wait until we got all the way home to have a drink. So, that was shit. I think we got paid something like fifty quid for our trouble.”

He admits that sometimes it’s good to reflect on dark nights like those. “We’ve done okay,” is his modest assessment of the subsequent couple of years. The twelve months ahead, though, promise to be some of the busiest of their lives, but Hutchison is anything but daunted. “There are always people to be played to, there’s always a new town to go to so we’re going to treat it like that and tour the arse off it!”

Scott contemplates the rigours ahead, before saying, “It could be worse.”

One wonders whether he’s thinking of that suit?

New Blood: Trapped in Kansas


They read Stephen Hawking, question the laws of physics and still find a minute to make a wave on the local circuit. There’s only one Trapped in Kansas.

When a group of university students decide to combine forces and make music, the move is quite often inspired by cheap booze and the need for an alternative to daytime television. Not so, it appears, in the case of Ayr’s Trapped In Kansas. Guitarist Gregor Fair explains that the quartet’s intricate, tuneful brand of indie rock was borne out of inter-band conversations on space, time travel, the Hadron Collider and other assorted quandaries of physics. “We genuinely have some intense scientific brain meltdowns whilst traversing the M8 in Chris [Ward]’s trusty Citroen Picasso.”

Ward, the band’s bass player and vocalist elaborates: “I would certainly say our biggest influence is science. We get into crazy chats about dark matter, parallel universes and Stephen Hawking.”

It’s a refreshing approach to songwriting, and one which has paid dividends this year. Though only formed in June 2008, Trapped in Kansas already have debut performances at RockNess and a headlining set in the T Break tent at T in the Park under their belt, having also featured in a filmed session for The Skinny and Off The Beaten Tracks at the latter.

Whilst Fair is loathe to define the band’s sound, he describes its intricacies as “thoughtful and sometimes challenging, without being complicated for the sake of it.” He is sure, however, that Trapped in Kansas have found a distinct identity. “I think we’re instantly recognisable against other Scottish bands. Finn [Le Marinel]’s vocals are very unique which helps us stand out. The rhythms and tempos are constantly shifting in our songs, which keeps people interested.”

It’s a reasonable summation, according to the few tracks the band have released. There’s a palpable element of math-rock, but the tracks are consistently melodic. Their palette owes much to the wildly varied tastes of the band’s members: drummer Iain Symes enjoys dubstep and drum & bass, whereas Le Marinel is, according to Fair, “a purveyor of anything devoid of time signatures.” Fair’s own background is playing in punk bands, whilst Ward mainly follows indie bands like Belle & Sebastian, Stapleton and The Smiths. Collectively, the band enjoy more than the mere mysteries of the universe, sharing a love of Frightened Rabbit and American Football.

Having just completed a tour of Scotland with Bronto Skylift and Lions.Chase.Tigers., Ward is confident that another EP release from the band is forthcoming in the near future, though the process of formalising an agreement with the right label hasn’t been without its complications. “We’ve had chats with some Scottish labels about doing a single deal, though thus far nothing has been right for us. But we’re excited about the EP, it will be like the end of our first chapter and we can move away from those tracks and onto new material.”

With another round of Scottish gigs scheduled between now and the festive season, the opportunities to catch the dextrously talented Trapped In Kansas are plentiful. Be sure and see them now before they turn the page.

Written for The Skinny