Yet another bright local hope, Wolverhampton-based LOUISE PETIT’s (below) stock in trade is acoustic folk-Americana delivered with sweetly limpid vocals that can dig deeper into the soil when needed. Doubling on guitar and uke, she’s joined by Kevin Reginald Cook on double bass, drummer Tim Heymerdinger and the occasional mandolin skills of Tom Manning, the outfit releasing their debut EP, Fear And My Other Friends, towards the end of last year.
The frisky, shuffling Demons, with its mandolin strum and brushed drums, is the most immediate number, but nothing has you reaching for the skip button. Again featuring mandolin as well as a whistling solo, a folk swing Love Is Pure provides the other uptempo track, the remaining three numbers showing Petit’s smoother side. All lullabying tones, crooning harmonies and waltzing melody, You Loved Me First calls to mind Fairground Attraction, Ghost has a jazzy double bass rhythm with Petit accompanying herself on ukulele, and the A Fading Light brings things back to a simple acoustic sway, Petit slowly building the emotional and vocal dynamics as the track rises to a euphoric climax.
She’s competing in an increasingly crowded market-place and she’s going to have to build a bigger profile if she’s going to make a substantial impression, but there’s no disputing she has the musical tools to do the job.
MINIMUM (above) are a new Birmingham electro-rock trio, made up of Jak Stephens on guitar, vocals and electronics, bassist Andy Cheadle and Phil Broadhead on drums, who cite Rage Against The Machine, the Beastie Boys and classical music among their influences. There’s little evidence of the latter on Smash Routine, the lead track from their new EP (Kittiwake) which involves a pounding drum tattoo, angry guitar riffs and vocals that shift between lung-exploding and soft cooing, the whole thing dripping aggressive fire. They’re a little poppier on the flurried Yeah, My Girlfriend, thought that too ultimately churns into a maelstrom. However, the soaringly anthemic Forget The Words shows they have a softer side too, one which may well prove to be their real strength.
New arrivals too are HOLOCENE (above), an ethnically mixed indie-rock four piece comprising 18 year old Bishan Davies (vocals and rhythm guitar), Marcello Sanzari (lead guitar), Benedict Campbell (drums) and, the eldest at 20, Aaron Barnett (bass) and citing Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon among their core influence.. The redoubtable Gavin Monaghan produced their debut single, the dark and moody Flaws In Us All with its fluttering guitar, insistent bassline and Bishan’s assured vocals suggesting New Order might be in the record collection too.
Releasing No Association in 2009 and Scratches And Scars in 2011, Birmingham heavy rock trio TEMPLETON PEK (above) have been building a reputation as solid as their following. With the arrival of Signs (Century Media) they now look poised to make the breakthrough to the next level, commanding larger venues and larger audiences. The Rise Again, Funeral For A Friend and Offspring comparisons hold true with the band’s intense driving riffs, pounding drums, throbbing rhythms and Neal Mitchell’s power-charged vocals, here sounding more muscular and confident than ever.
Their affinity with classic hard rock is evident from the start with Trial And Error and Barriers, the latter also showing how they craft melody to go with their hammering assault. With its hints of the Foo Fighters, the urgent Difference is an early highlight as is the utterly contrastive What Are You Waiting For, an orchestral intro giving way to the massive rock dynamics. It’s not wildly experimental, but it does show the band willing to move out of the often restrictive circle of the classic rock template as indeed does Alive (Promise Is Safety) which surges out of an electronics effected starting gate like a greyhound on amphetamines only to rein in and unleash the tempo throughout, a trick they also pull off to impressive effect with Slow Burn.
Elsewhere the air punching quality of Left To Fade with its big keyboard chords that mark a shift of tone while maintaining the track’s underpinning drum foundations and the fierce title track itself serve to reinforce the feeling that things are about to explode for them. The album opens with a welter of riffage and drums, head down and crushing resistance as Mitchell sings now you know Who We Are. After this, no serious rock fan will be in any doubt.
No longer based in Birmingham, but still honorary citizens, EDITORS ditch the recent heavy emphasis on electronics and return to the dark, moody dense guitar sound of their early releases with A Ton Of Love, their debut single for new label Play It Again Sam. A trailer for next month’s The Weight Of Your Love album, the first recordings to feature new members Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams following the departure of founding member Chris Urbanowicz, as Tom Smith belts out ‘desire’ over the storm of guitar and keyboards, it’s hard not to find yourself thinking of the U2 number of that title while the melody itself calls to mind Echo and the Bunnymen (Back of Love to be specific), Smith sounding not unlike a deeper voiced Ian McCulloch. With advance word suggesting the rest of the album follows in similar stylistic suit (Bird Of Prey and Nothing ones to listen out for), that third consecutive #1 should be a mere formality.