Currently sitting in prime position on the sideboard is the sophomore album from Rook & The Ravens who we featured some time ago after a mind-blowing London show at Proud Camden. I decided it was time to catch up with their new output and see them at their album launch show at The Deaf Institute.
The Fay brothers have a rare chemistry on stage which makes you feel like you are watching a classic band from the 60’s perform a unique version of each song. And that is what strikes me here with the reference to the past; there is a clear history amongst the band members which is evident. They know each other inside out. They feel completely comfortable within each others presence. This is a true marriage of friendship that gives them the power to create beautiful music.
Naturally I was won over by that which will always grab my attention – an inspired set of songs delivered with honest vocals. When I hear this more often than not, I will buy your record.
And so I listened…
This quintet have clearly been working to no end, finding a sound which represents the core of their market town of Glossop. The songs shine through the walls of the dusty stone cottages they were likely written inside of and make poignant observations of life in the Peak District. The stories laden throughout will twist and turn you and leave you in awe of these three songwriters with such a gift.
There is no pretension here. The music presents itself as nothing more than a long term ambition to leave something special behind. Things are being done without the aid of post-modern production techniques and the live sound they have captured on record is similar to that you would likely hear if you happenstance strayed into their rehearsal room.
The artwork I particularly enjoyed glaring at whilst listening to the record. The concept is nothing more than a cracked wall or floor tile on the surface of it; but it does fill you with intrigue to hear what lies inside. When I opened the case out flat I noticed that there seems to be a knotted twist within the pastille coloured stone. Printed in matt, it gives off an aura of authenticity which is exactly aligned to the feel of the sound.
TRACK BY TRACK
Clean Start – an aptly titled yet jarring opener which takes you straight into the flow of things. There is a chorus which feels like it is holding back with its carefully structured chord harmony. A nice change which sets you up for the next song. This blues infused rock number nods stridently in a QOTSA style. Little Rib – Momentum gathers here as you start to see all separate pieces that make up the RATR sound in this next opus. Each section is delivered by a different vocalist which is an interesting listen. It tells all sides of the story before reaching the climax with a three part harmony chorus. I like the idea of it. Fresh. Sixes and Sevens – here is where the juices really get going. A poetic ditty. You listen to this heartfelt number and it puts you in a safe place somehow. The Judge – a structural oasis with a different vocal for each section. Not the most radio friendly of tracks; yet you get the feeling that the objective of this song was in fact to make a bold statement against the prejudice of music. These guys are free from the shackles of a record company’s influences and this clearly shows in this track. Pull It Apart – the discordant sounding lead guitar introduces itself as another understated offering. The drop on the chorus to a sparse arrangement really shows the band flexing their unpredictability muscle..
Miss This Boat – this is a stand out track for me and follows on perfectly from Pull It Apart. The guitar line is such a comfortable mattress for the melody to rest on. James Fay furnishes the song with a heartfelt vocal throughout. The drop into a minimally arranged chorus initially suggests a departure of a loved one until the twist with the lyric “We’ll miss this boat together…”. It lines the mind of the listener with such romantic imagery of a couple standing side by side through thick and thin. The disciplined writing vision of this song shows that the band could easily be capable of writing stadium filling pop songs if they desired to do so. Chop House – The pace of the album resumes here with an uplifting toe-tapper. The eccentric vocal technique sits somewhere between Cold War Kids and Panic! At The Disco. Whilst being the title track from the album, this track didn’t grab me as much as the others but maybe that will change over a few more listens. They Don’t Wanna See Me – a minor sounding guitar riff takes you into imaginative storytelling. This one sounds like it was written around the same time as Sixes & Sevens as it has a similar feel. It feels fresh and is a solid album track.
Horses – “Lost my money on a horse today”: a vibrant chorus with a Franz Ferdinand meets QOTSA feel with its right on top of the beat stomp. Some virtuoso musicianship going on here during the interludes. Liquor Store – I love this ditty – it’s a band having fun and the insanity is really captured on record. It sounds like a live band going crazy in a tight space. The chord changes really catch you off guard whilst hooking you in more section by section. A great idea and fits perfectly heading towards the end of the album. Problem Ball – a really fun song which happens to have the most obvious melodic hooks on the record. This is probably a single for me although it was probably never intended to be. Sometimes the less likely singles perform best though! Enough Will Never Be Enough – what a killer tune to see the record out with! The three part harmonies reminiscent of The Eagles works so well here as it brings everything together. It has a real anthemic outro which builds in a Hey Jude like style yet with more poignance – “Enough will never be enough”…
Check out Rook & The Ravens – “Chop House“ here: