Saturday, 15 August 2009

Reverend and The Makers - A French Kiss In The Chaos

Reverend and The Makers seem to be one of those bands that everyone loves to hate. Despite the commercial success of debut album "The State of Things" the band are still consistently getting bad press. Most of this has nothing to do with their music and is, in fact, due to singer Jon "Reverend" McClure's outspoken and opinionated ways. "A French Kiss In The Chaos" gives Jon a chance to transfer his opinions into his music and as a result we're left with a politically charged second album.

The album starts off in the strongest way possible with the psychedelic sounding "Silence Is Talking". Built around a sample of War's "Low Rider" it's a triumphant attempt at creating what should have been a summer anthem. Of course this isn't just a catchy dance tune, the lyrics are a clear dig at British culture, condemning the fact it's near impossible to make a political statement without getting derided.

The rest of the album has a lot to live up to but Reverend and co. aren't up for dropping their standards. Songs such as "Hidden Persuaders" and the high tempo-ed "No Wood Just Trees" continue the trend of cleverly disguising political messages amongst memorable melodies. The album falters slightly at "Professor Pickles" but despite being a drop in quality from the rest of the album, this track is still better than what most indie bands can manage. Things quickly turn brilliant again with the movingly simplistic yet delightful "Long Long Time". This demonstrates Jon's sensitive side and gives him a chance to show off just how much the band have matured since their debut album.

Unlike The State of Things, which included collaborations with Alex Turner amongst others, almost all of the tracks on A French Kiss In The Chaos are written entirely by the band themselves. The only notable exception is "No Soap In A Dirty War" which was co-written with Backhanded Compliment's front man and former Milburn guitarist Tom Rowley. Ironically Rowley's now a member of Reverend and The Makers, taking the place of Tom Jarvis on guitar. And it's fair to say if Jon and Tom continue writing in this fashion then the next Reverend and The Makers album may be even better than this one! For me this track is the clear highlight of the album, taking everything that's good about the band and putting it into one glorious song. Starting off simply with just an acoustic guitar and Jon’s vocals the track accumulates to a sublime multi vocalist and multi instrumental chant of ''I don't wanna die in the same hole I was born/ I don't wanna get married in the same church as you all'', a line anyone that's ever had ambition in life can relate to.

Compared to the grandness of the track before it “People Shapers/Manifesto” is almost understated. It takes a while to get used to the sudden change in tone from “No Soap In A Dirty War” but this scathing attack on the BNP is another noteworthy number.

All great albums must have a memorable closing track and that’s precisely what “Hard Time For Dreamers” is. As a matter of fact it very nearly hits the dizzy heights that “No Soap In A Dirty War" managed. It's quiet emotional intensity reiterates the fact that, despite supporting Oasis, Reverend and The Makers aren't just another lad rock band and do have something different to offer if given a chance.

I urge people to listen to A French Kiss In The Chaos with an open mind and not allow any bad reviews or Jon's reputation get in the way of the fact that this is a captivating and frequently beautiful album.

Download: No Soap In A Dirty War, Silence Is Talking, Hard Time For Dreamers, People Shapers/Manifesto

Gemma Barnes

Official Site

Monday, 3 August 2009

Twin Atlantic (Supporting Taking Back Sunday) @ ABC Glasgow, 29/7/2009

When I got told I was to review this I knew straight away I'd find it tough not to be biased. Twin Atlantic are one of my favourite bands and I won't hear a bad word spoke about them. But the truth is they're THAT good live it's hard not to give them a perfect review.

Playing to another band's crowd is never easy, especially when it's a band as rightfully popular as Taking Back Sunday. From the moment Twin Atlantic took to the stage it was evident that 90% of the crowd were more interested in what was coming next as opposed to what was in front of them. However the subdued crowd failed to dishearten the Glasgow fourpeice as they kicked off with the explosive "Lightspeed" which involved singer Sam McTrusty delivering his distinctive vocals with the kind of passion that's already made his band Scotland's hottest prospect.

Despite a few technical difficulties, namely guitarist Barry McKenna managing to pull his lead out at least twice, Twin continued their set in a blistering fashion. Demonstrating not only fantastic musical talent but also the kind of confidence and stage presence that's normally reserved for the headlining band.

A superb rendition of "What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?" was followed by new single "You're Turning Into John Wayne", an edgy song which proves that despite their imminent success the band aren't about to succumb to a more commercial sound.

Remarkably, neither of these, nor promising new track "Old Grey Face", succeeded in livening up the majority of the crowd. Being more used to seeing Twin in a hall full of adoring fans it was strange watching them having to try and impress but they done just that with the spine tingling "A Guidance From Colour". Even the most die hard of Taking Back Sunday fans couldn't help but take note as Barry swapped his guitar for an electric cello and the band demonstrated their softer side with this atmospheric number.

However it was final song, "Audience And Audio" that eventually roused the crowd, it's soaring vocals and infectious melody forcing people to give the band the attention they deserved. Their fate as a pretty much perfect support band was sealed towards the end of the song when Taking Back Sunday frontman, Adam Lazzara, joined them on stage to sing the final few lines.

As the guys finished up a small group of us departed the main area and headed towards the merch stall, safe with the knowledge that in not many months time Twin Atlantic will most certainly be headlining, if not this venue, then one even bigger. And this time in front of fans that fully appreciate them.

Gemma Barnes

Offical Site