Tuesday 5 July 2011

Kowalskiy Belated Review #8

Annie Stevenson - Annie Stevenson
So time for another trio of Kowalskiy-neglected releases.   We're talking months here people!  I'm ashamed of myself, I really am.  First up are Glasgow indie-rocking-quartet (and not some female soloist as their name suggests) Annie Stevenson.  Thinking back, they were probably one of the first bands ever to send me demos all those years ago.  Well now, they've brought out their debut, eponymous album, and you know what, it ain't half bad!
It did take me a while to appreciate this album.  There's a lot of differing styles going on, and the indie punk of the opening two tracks, reminiscent of The Enemy,  isn't one of my favourite genres!  It's not long though before these plucky young 'uns hit their stride with the (good era) Weezer-esque Someone Else and swaggering Britpop throwback TV Took Your Soul.  This promising debut peaks at the cracking Freedom Town which combines elements of both to great effect, creating a great rousing anthem.  I suppose, they do have the brass to pull it off!  As the album draws to a close, there's a few more styles and snippets of influences shining through.  All sound promising from a band trying to find their niche. A smidgeon of polish and a more definite style-of-their-own and we could be hearing an awfy lot more from Annie Stevenson!

Although the album is only available at gigs, the band are releasing a series of 4 downloadable EPs featuring the album tracks, each with a new song too!  The first of which, featuring Someone Else can be bought from iTunes here

Chasing Owls - We Began
The eponymy stops here!  Edinburgh folkies Chasing Owls are next up with their delightful debut EP We Began.  If their music's anything to go by, then they're a lovely bunch indeed!  As for the EP, it's absolutely stunning.  Especially opening track Wedding Song, which in my opinion, is one of the finest Scottish folk songs of the last few years' alt-folk revival.  Awash with gorgeous melodies, perfectly-placed handclaps and a timeless fiddle solo, it's fit to grace anyone's special day.   In no small part due to frontman Ben Sunderland's vocals, on Glory, comparisons with Mr. Mumford and his male offspring are inevitable.  This gorgeous, almost eerily-so, track builds up with the same quiet intensity their folky counterparts made their name with, and more than holds its own.  Bonus track, and by far, the most upbeat track on the EP, Lady of the Whiteness is a slight departure from that intensity, but a glorious track nonetheless, and definitely one to get the foot tapping away to.  Just you try and stop it!  Hopefully there's not too long to wait for the follow-up.

Black International - In Debt
From the artwork alone you know this couldn't be more different to the last one!  Different is still good though, every bit as good as the case may be.  Hailing from Edinburgh, Black International describe their what they do as "stripped down, economical, brutal music".  If that doesn't tempt you to check their debut album In Debt out, I dunno what will!  This stripped down brutality begins with A Millions Mouths, which sucks you in from the off, signalling its intent with regimented snare drums and their trademark, menacing guitars.   The full-on aural assault continues, reaching its peak at the devastating standout trio - Word Virus, Know You Exist and Monument.  Black International are taking no prisoners whatsoever with In Debt.  It's a strong, bold debut, and it's clear to see why they've struck a chord with bloggers and radio sorts alike.  This three-headed, guitar-wielding behemoth is gonna take some stopping!

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