Tuesday, 4 January 2011

In Casino Out
Shields EP
Released September 2010
Rating: 4/5

I guess a little preamble wouldn't be such an evil in this instance. Way back in May 2009 (feels like a long time ago, right?) I caught a band opening for My Vitriol on their fan club tour called Connectingflight. Now, Connectingflight were kind of the style of music I thought Manchester would be full of- influenced by Biffy, Oceansize and a general desire to be as forward-thinking with a guitar as it is possible to be. Unfortunately, shortly after releasing the Fix EP (I've still got a copy around here somewhere), they broke up. Sometime later, they came back with a new band, with only singer/guitarist John Murray and (superb) drummer James Lorenzo retained from their old outfit. A few months later, they saw fit to grace us with this EP, and it's much to my discredit that I haven't reviewed it before now. 

Well, as I touched on before, it's influenced by that whole At the Drive-In post-hardcore sound, and at times it's pretty heavy going, certainly more so than Connectingflight, which was rather more lush in a kind of Effloresce sort of way. Opener 'This Year's Noise' is the obvious 'single' (read introductory) track, and serves as a kind of concise almalgamation of the various parts of their sound; the triple-guitar attack of Radiohead, the band interaction of Oceansize's 'Catalyst', the atmospherics of second-album Coopers, and the vibe of all those turn-of-the-2000s southern rock bands (Reuben, Redefine and Vex spring to mind). In fact, though it's only been released since then, their heavier moments (particularly on highlight 'Megan Fox') sound nothing so much as The Octopus; MF in particular has the same deep rumble as 'Fall of the Empire'.  'Plans' in all honesty sounds kind of like those scratchy, early Rage-inflected b-sides from the first Muse record, as well as obviously early Biffy Clyro. Belying their bandname, if they take from their post-hardcore uncles, I'd say the influence is more the raw energy of Acrobatic Tenement, even if I will concede to this being hidden under quite exceptional production values. Seriously, I often bitch on here about the unfashionability of heavy rock, but as long as musicians continue to make such exceptionally challenging loud music, who gives a fuck?

Keep an eye on this band- Oceansize are 12 years in, these guys are only the one. Who knows where they'll end up? 

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