Rose Coloured Records – ‘Doorstep – Volume 1’ [Review]
Here at TMMP, grassroots music is a big deal. I’ve never understood why people will happily watch rubbish, stuck-in-a-rut TV talent shows that promote an illusory path to instant fame (and drop almost every winner once the last pennies have been squeezed from their exhaustive promotional activities) when hundreds of far more fascinating stories can be found just down the road, at a local music venue like The Boileroom in Guildford. It’s incredible to think that so many great, even world-class talents can go ignored, despite being within such easy reach year in, year out. Why wait for the next week’s TV-scheduled slot when you could just poke your head out of the front door and experience something first-hand?
Well, whatever the answers to those brain-befuddlers might be, they won’t move us much closer to a solution. A far better response to these ever-perplexing issues is the humble, unassuming release of compilation albums such as Doorstep – Volume 1, showcasing as they do a whole raft of interesting and locally-sourced musicians. Whatever you might be into, there’s probably something in here for you. Let’s look a bit deeper…
Our Lost Infantry – ‘The Dry Salvages’
Sublime lyrics, lilting piano, and a beautiful vocal combine to make a fantastic opening statement. Things soon shift into strident, confident pop rock with folky overtones and plenty of tasteful and super-effective simplicity. A big bridge beat gives way into a full-steam-ahead outro and some evanescent piano to close. Wonderful.
Freeze The Atlantic – ‘Like Gravity’
As a supergroup formed of local legends, it’s hard to imagine FTA doing wrong – and they certainly avoid going that way on this track. Gritty, harsh, straight to the point and in your face, this is definitely something for rock lovers to soak up, process, and rave about for days on end.
Yearbook – ‘Classic Literature’
Whether you’re listening to Yearbook on record or watching them live, you can’t argue with their output in terms of sheer energy. These guys aren’t afraid to open the floodgates from note one, and they’re also able to channel their seemingly bottomless angst-ridden rage into tight, focussed performances. Key lyrics pop out at precisely-chosen points, demonstrating a mature awareness and craftsmanship rarely found in such youthful and teen-friendly bands.
Yearbook clearly know where they want to go – and as ever, this track just makes it clear that they will get there, whatever it takes.
Wolf Choir – ‘Dilute’
Love the intro here! Delay for days, shimmering Stratty guitar tones and a gently bouncing reggae vibe permeate the entire tune without getting dull and samey. This is the mark of a band who know exactly how to employ effects tastefully and effectively as a differentiating factor rather than a gimmick.
I Plead Irony – ‘Now Or Never’
Furious punk-infused rock bashed out with plenty of aggression and well-drilled control. This tune was made to be let loose live; you can imagine entire fields, tents, and massive venues bouncing to it by next summer – and if there’s any justice, that’s exactly what’ll happen.
There’s also a slight Creed vibe going on in here. Not sure if that’ll be taken as a compliment or an insult, but it’s definitely intended as the former!
Launch Control – ‘Cardiac Arrest’
More summer-friendly punky rock goodness, this time full of hectically uptempo energy. No frills here, just a one-track tune that does the job with workmanlike professionalism.
Rival Empires – ‘If I Was A Whale’
This band don’t give a fuck! We get a grammar-Nazi-baiting title (should it be “If I Were A Whale”?), a deeply passionate vocal, and some seriously meaty riffage to sink our teeth into here. An awesome total package.
Although this track isn’t any shorter than most of its peers here, it still seemed like it was over much faster! Had to hit repeat before moving on. A wicked little song.
Fire At Night – ‘Gravity’
If your band open a tune with an Incubus-style intro, I’m going to be hooked. I have to be harsh but fair here, though – there’s something lacking about the vocal performance on this track. Lyrically it works really well, and the songwriting is cool, but overall I felt let down after an awesome instrumental start. There’s plenty of promise and potential here, but these guys definitely need to spend more time in the practice room.
Lit Like Vegas – ‘City Lights’
Doorstep – Volume 1 gets back on form quickly here with a bit of punky metalcore riffage and some solid instrumental work. Clearly the product of some hard-working up and comers. Very impressed. Great gang-vocal hook toward the end too! This tune must go over incredibly live. Wow.
Terrics – ‘In The Abstract’
I had to take a short break here before continuing. Punk’s not really my thing, if I’m being totally honest; I can deal with it for a short while, but after a certain point the fractional differences between punk’s different subgenres aren’t enough to keep my interest.
Terrics are a great punk band. There’s nothing wrong here – but still, my overwhelming bout of Punk Fatigue won out and switched me off. I’d still recommend Terrics to punk-loving friends though.
Date – ‘Falling Apart’
As much as I hate wearing the Harsh But Fair Critic’s Hat, the instrumental intro is too long here. There’s not enough rhythmic or harmonic variety to sustain my interest for 40 seconds. When the vocals do come in, it works very well; Falling Apart is a really cool song, but if I weren’t reviewing this compilation I’d have skipped it.
When it comes to tracks like this, it really highlights the point I made earlier about the stories of local musicians. Not every act is set to take over the world just yet – many of them still need time to find their voice or get their musical chops honed to the razor’s edge required to capture a listener’s attention from the get-go. But whereas The X Factor’s judges would most likely mock acts at this level, out here in the real world they can still be observed working hard to better themselves. Cookie-cutter culture says to dismiss stuff like this, but in reality it’s really cool to watch bands and artists pull themselves up to the next level through no-nonsense hard work.
Hopefully, Date and Fire At Night won’t stop, and will keep going and come out with some really top-drawer tunes in the future. Nothing warms my heart as much as that. Fingers crossed.
twothirtytwo – ‘Simulation’
Unfortunately, despite a fantastic vocal I have to add this track to the same pile as Date and Fire At Night. Sorry. The drum sound is terrible, and spoils what could otherwise be an enjoyable song. It’s a really confusing choice to my ears; I’ve heard twothirtytwo before, and they usually sound much better than this!
Hanshotfirst – ‘2001’
This is more like it! A cool and confident vocal backed up by more-than-competent musicianship and very nice backing vocals. Punky energy with a solid rock core and the obvious presence of hard work and passion won me over. Great job.
Spirit Of The State – ‘Best I Could’
An obvious live recording that’s of pretty decent quality. I was getting a second wind for punk by this point, and I really enjoyed this track. A good calling card for a band I really want to see live now!
According To You – ‘Apology’
Something really cool and different at this point. If I’m being honest, this could have come a lot sooner in the running order; it’s an engaging bit of contemporary guitar-pop made up of well-structured parts and carefully arranged lyrics, and was very pleasant to listen to after that manic punk overload!
Tunes like this are so obviously crafted with a budding professional’s touch that they really raise the bar for other up and comers. Although from a reviewer’s perspective this situation makes it impossible to not highlight the shortcomings of tracks that fall below par, it also just goes to show what can be achieved with enough hard work and careful, loving craftsmanship. So, kudos to According To You here.
Parachute For Gordo – ‘Hog In The Trough’
I’m familiar with these guys already, and this live piece did the job I expected it to with a trademark lack of fuck-giving. It’s dense, manic, and definitely post-something. You could never call this a “song”, but neither are you supposed to – what we get here is a massive wash of pure sound punctuated by joyous whoops and cheering. Fucking hell. Being in Parachute For Gordo seems like so much fun that I just added it to my list of things I want to do when I grow up.
CeCe – ‘Glamorous Decay’
Stunning. I’m already familiar with this tune, having seen CeCe live at the Boileroom and reviewed her Framework EP, which I still find myself returning to over and over again. I still stand by what I said in the Framework review – when CeCe performs this song, it’s guaranteed to blow minds. If you’re unmoved by Glamorous Decay, you don’t have a soul; it’s as simple as that.
Overall, Doorstep – Volume 1 is a great showcase of local talent. As is to be expected, some tracks stand out more than others – but that’s really part of the beauty of local music. Not everything needs to be digitally enhanced and pixel-perfect, ready for immediate mainstream mass consumption; there’s beauty and joy in the imperfect and the still-developing, too.
Rose Coloured Records have offered equal attention to all manner of artists, from big-name legends to rising stars and developing talents – a move that marks them out as being worthy of any serious music lover’s time and attention. If you’re at Rose Coloured’s show at the Boileroom this Friday, be sure to pick up a copy of Doorstep – Volume 1 from the merch table – and even if you can’t make it to the show, this compilation sees its official release next Monday.
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