I used to find myself quite often listening to bands and being all too quick to point out their influences if I felt it was too close of an imitation to someone else’s work. Now I try to look past this and see what is special or unique about an act. When a band grabs me, it is usually because I hear the honesty in their sound and feel some sort of connection; whether this be through a spine-tingling melody, musical ideas or an accessible line in a song. Rook And The Ravens are this kind of band. They collect ideas, put them through their own mixer and the outcome is music that although could be compared to certain other bands from different eras they’ve adopted their posture. This is a band that knows the art of song and it is demonstrated by their story-telling.
So I found myself in a nightclub venue which was a bizarre cross between a photo gallery and an old horse stables. The room was filled with smoke and there were towering employees on stilts walking around dressed as giant ivy bushes! I had to remind myself at this point I was in Camden Town. I don’t think most of these people came for the live music but they were listening attentively. Why? Because this is a band with REAL SONGS and good vocals! These are structured pieces with good building bridges and catchy choruses.
The drummer and bassist could quite easily be over looked here but they shouldn’t be by any means as every single note had it’s rightful place. Here is a song orientated rhythm section that know exactly when and when not to play. The space left in the music that the rhythm section created was the beauty of this band coming together and delivering a set of well arranged and melodic songs. Rook And The Ravens are A BAND THAT GEL! The mystique came from the brothers, despite not looking at all like brothers, have the exact same look in their eye that communicates with the audience saying “I know about something so you better listen to me”.
Apart from in special circumstances having 3 songwriters in a band can often result in a clash of ego’s, friction and nothing promising really happening. However like The Beatles, this only makes creativity flourish here and this could be the verge of something very good about to happen for this quintet; as a rare chemistry is clearly evident. On stage each member appears to be inside their own world of thought whilst they soak up the sound that brings them together as a band. They know how to entertain an audience because they smile and make eye contact, which kind of let’s you know it’s ok to enjoy yourself.
Particularly noticeable was the lead guitarist’s unique stage presence; this held me captivated throughout the set. James Fay appears as though he is effortlessly picking over notes and still deciding if he could be playing something differently. The technique translated as a fresh and honest performance. I found it reminiscent of Roger McGuinn or even Dylan and he just put across this uncanny, lifeless persona which was far from pretentious. You BELIEVE him because he appears like he has been sat in his bedroom since childhood wanting to tell everybody something. The fact that he doesn’t appear as the frontman of the band just makes this all the more special.
There is a little ground still to be made overall as I would say that the songs if they were being pushed to radio need to be made a little more cohesive throughout. There are a couple of really catchy songs in the set for example “The Judge” is technically brilliant but seemed to somewhat interrupt the flow between sections resulting in the focus getting lost of what the song was about. I like the idea of 3 vocalists each taking different sections but maybe this needs to be made more subtle to have maximum effect as when the vocalists changed the soul of the song fell, for me anyway.
This band will be around for some time but go and check them out now whilst they are playing in the more intimate of spaces!