Even in Arcadia
Electric Thumb is available at:
RELEASED: September, 2015
The E.P. Blue Prints is available at:
Electric Thumb- 9.3
City in the Dark- 9.2
Weave a Web (Acoustic) - 9.2
ON this rare occasion…
I get to review a band from an area of the U.K. I have not visited for a while: that would be Scotland then. Before I reach my featured act, it is worth bringing Scotland into the mix; in addition to looking a Grunge/Alt.-Rock sounds- plus the need for some escapism in music. I have not had a chance to review a Scottish act for some time. I believe the last time I did it was the fellow-Arcadians, Echo Arcadia (wonder if the two bands know each other; should have a special Arcadia-related party) - so it is great to be back in Scotland. Having finished another L.A.-based review, one can see the huge shifts going to Glasgow- not just in terms of geography (the L.A. of Scotland, maybe?) but the musical styles and acts coming through. What I love about Scotland is there are so many D.I.Y. acts emerging: unconcerned with record label approval; there is a more honest and hard-working bunch of musicians coming through. In Glasgow and Edinburgh (other parts of the country too) there are a lot of bands emerging that play the heavier side of things- as opposed to solo artists and duos for instance. I am not sure whether it is a ‘Scottish thing’ yet there seems to be a predominance of Alternative/Rock bands coming out- each bringing something new to the table. The thing that amazes me most about the bands of Scotland is that work ethic and honesty that comes out in the music- the emotion and raw touches that few other areas do so well. I am not sure whether it is down to the people- and particular characteristics indicative and exclusive to them- or something else; whatever it is (is) leading to some fantastic music. In addition to Echo Arcadia- a band that plays dreamier Alternative sounds- I am close with Universal Thee- a Grunge/Alternative band in the mould of Pavement and Pixies. Perhaps the closest comparisons with Even in Arcadia, I was interested to see what the band was about and what they could offer. Being female-led, it also reminded me of the aforementioned Scottish acts- each of who have a female lead/joint-lead vocalist. There seems to be a different dynamic and way of working in Scotland- greater equality and originality; stronger bonds among bands which is resulting in more natural brilliance and surprise. One of the main reasons I have slated a lot of bands this year- the last time I shall bandy this feathered bow about in 2015- is the cessation of originality and emotion; the music is either predictable or copycat or lacks any depth and memorability- leaving you rather annoyed and underwhelmed. Bands that come through who are new and fresh; who leave impressions on the mind- leading me to my featured act. Before I continue with a new point, let me introduce Glasgow’s Even in Arcadia.
Vocals - Hazel Gore Guitar - Christopher Garvin Bass - Chris Gore Drums - Blair Martin
“Even in Arcadia are a female fronted rock band from Glasgow formed in 2014.
Intricate guitars, thought provoking lyrics, powerful female vocals and a hard hitting rhythm section blend together to give a distinguished sound. It is hard to class the band in one genre but they have been described as "New Wave vocals meet Punk Rock guitars". Influences are varied across the band and include; Patti Smith, The Ramones, Nirvana, Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Blue Oyster Cult.
Despite only being together a short period of time, the band have already featured on radio stations across the globe. In 2014, Even in Arcadia released their debut EP "Weave A Web". The EP can be heard on their various social media sites.
In September 2015, the band released their new EP "Blue Prints”.
Just looking at the band’s influences- the likes of The Ramones and Patti Smith gives you an insight into their music and feel. Not confined to a single genre- essentially creating their own sub-genre- the band have distinguished themselves as ones to watch; a group that should be making some significant moves in 2015. When you are forming a band you decide what sort of sound you want to present- dependent and influenced by your idols I guess. There are so many bands that do not cast their attention back and look at the legends of music. So many young musicians have such ignorance of music; their attention spans do not go beyond the 1990s- as a result, you get a lot of predictable and immobile acts. My generation have the warped opinion music is at its best now- it has been on a slide since the heydays of the ‘90s- and tend to concentrate on the established acts on the scene at the moment. The best bands take influence from older-day acts and those that have already left their mark- making their own music much richer and rounded. Although music has declined over the last couple of decades, there are plenty of great acts that are standing out and making a real difference. Even in Arcadia have only been together a year but are showing signs they are one of those bands for 2016- that we all will be hearing more of in time. Their latest E.P. capitalises on their debut work and ups the game: the group sound more essential and confident than ever before; honed and completely in control. Grunge and Alternative genres are those that have been well-represented over the year; a popular choice for young bands as there is plenty of chance for raw edges and emotion- music that is exhilarating and hugely evocative. Being a fan of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana- ‘90s legends when Grunge was taking off- it is great to hear an act that evoke a little of their spirit- whilst showing so many more sides and ideas. Being winter- and with Christmas looming- we need some escapism as the days close in; let music do its work and take our minds somewhere else. Already saturated and exhausted by the constant and mind-numbing array of Christmas-themed songs- the same tracks played over and over- I have been seeking music that differs completely and affords me the opportunity to find something genuinely new and great. The guys and gal of Even in Arcadia are an act who I will be watching as we go into 2016; keeping an eye on what they are all about- seeing how Blue Prints resonates with music-lovers. So far they have been getting great feedback with regards the E.P. - it was released a few months ago- and has seen their fan-base rise. The next year will see the band do some touring and prepare some new music- whether they choose to release another E.P. - and let’s hope they are afforded the chance to tour beyond Scotland- come down to the south and enthrall the crowds here.
It is great to hear the latest sounds from Even in Arcadia. They show a band with a lot of potential and future ahead of them. If you want an insight into how Blue Prints differs- from their original work and how they have come on- then it is worth looking back at the earliest moments from the band. Stuck in a Current was released last year and starts with a shimmering and subtle arpeggio. That raw Punk sound and its sparse production makes the track sound live and urgent. You do not get a lot of polish or sheen making the composition and vocal sound immediate and unfettered. Whilst some of the vocals get a little lost in the mix; the song looks at being stuck in a current state of mind- the heroine is coasting and seems entranced in an unsettled mindset. Reminding me of Patti Smith and Siouxsie and the Banshees, you get a clash of U.S. /U.K. Punk of the ‘70s. The song has that sound of a jam- although a lot more rounded- and is built off few lyrics; repeating the central messages to get that claustrophobic and walls-closing-in sense.
Weave a Web is the band’s debut E.P. and matches Stuck in a Current alongside two other tracks. The title track begins with glistening and upbeat guitar strings. Sounding more polished and rounded then earlier cuts; it has a sensation of ‘90s Grunge with a distinct sound of the Glasgow band. The song looks at entrapment and struggling in a web. Whoever has weaved the web- whether it is a lover or friend of the band- and causes intrigue and speculation. The vocal has that reliably impassioned and cigarette-smoke allure to it that draws in the listener; impressed by that energy and raw edge that comes through. With its heart between ‘70s Punk and ‘90s Grunge, you get a great mix of sounds that shows the band at their peak- as tight and compelling as they ever have. The band’s distinct chorus work- that sees key words elongated and repeated into a mantra- mixes with a bold and energetic performance. Our heroine is tumbling and falling. Whether there is emotional discourse or something haunting her; some romantic ideals and intentions- you get the feeling of someone on the edge and losing some emotional ground. The vocal is as strong as any on the E.P. whilst the band presents a different dynamic and blend- mixing Punk and Grunge yet injecting something softer into proceedings. The entire E.P. shows confidence and commitment from a group with a great knowledge of music and its past.
Blue Prints sees a development and step forward for the band. Whilst they keep their Punk core and live sound intact; the production values are stronger and more polished- making the songs clearer and more decipherable. In past tracks, the band has suffered some clarity and intelligibility issues: vocals get dragged too far down and there is problems understanding some of the lyrics. The vocals are more assured and nuanced than before; showing greater emotional depth and ideas- more distinction and originality into the bargain. The band has created an E.P. exploring different scenes and progressing their sounds. It is a natural step that has brought in new listeners and made their songs more accessible without losing their grit, originality and live-sounding aesthetic. Many bands tend to slavishly stick to their original sound and do not show any evolution or change- meaning their lifespan is limited and they have limited careers. Even in Arcadia get stronger and more confident as time progresses; more inspired and assured- even though their debut E.P. is a stunning and hugely memorable effort.
I wanted to focus on Electric Thumb as it is the best representation of the band’s current sound ad direction. Whilst they have not altered (or needed to) their core sound; they have shown some new sides and subjects- all brought brilliantly to life on Blue Prints. Beginning with more kick and upbeat energy than any other track (the band has produced) you get some Pop melody and softness in the early exchanges- making it perhaps more accessible to some than other numbers. The band come up with something full-bodied and catchy without expending needless energy and cluttering the sound- they craft an addictive little riff that brilliantly fuses with bass and percussion. With some funky edges and a spirited heart, you get initial lyrics that look at knife-bearing deceit and something quite double-cross. Whether the song’s title refers to online attack or has its origins elsewhere; you get the impression of someone attacking the heroine- although she cannot see the knife/their face as it is perpetrated. The lead vocal has that distinct Even in Arcadia tone; although it sounds more trembling and anxious than I have ever heard. These electronic weapons- bombs and knives being dropped and sharpened- give that initial impression of cyber warfare and vengeance. With static I.P.s and sinister anonymity, you get a song that has an original and distinct side. Even in Arcadia like to craft songs that stray away from the predictability of love and its perils- what 99% of other acts do to death- and dig deeper. In these early moments you get a modern-day concern and ill uncovered and testified- an issue we can all relate to and understand. The band infuses one of their most heady and scintillating compositions so far. Putting their own stamp on Grunge and Punk flavours; you get a composition with more diversity than light than you’d expect. My initial impressions develop as our numb heroine starts to withdraw and retreat. Unable to feel the night and the light, there is some ambiguity and mystique to the lyrics. Whilst there are one or two clarity issues still- it would be good to have the song’s lyrics on SoundCloud- you get drawn into that electric and wracked vocal that shows some vulnerability and pain. Whether affected and struck by an enemy or central figure- or just enveloped by life, there is a relatable anxiety to the track. The entire track seems to be about anxieties and fears of the modern age. Whereas songs like City in the Dark explore drinking cultures and the binges and chaos around Glasgow- the early-hour scenes and characters that define it (for better or worse) - here you get something more personal and detached. With the heroine letting her voice fully explore and delve into the emotion you get a little semblance of Wolf Alice- the same sort of lyrical ideas and vocal sound comes out in spots. The band have stated in interviews how this song is related to physical anxieties and stresses; the strains and dangers of modern life- inspired by the likes of Foo Fighters and Pixies. While it has the sound of those bands; there is a classic Indie feel to it- recalling other influences like The Cure and The Smiths. Throughout the E.P., the Glagow band unites the ‘80s Indie/Alternative sounds with U.S. Grunge and Rock- via some ‘70s Punk. It is a layered and deep sound that makes songs such as Electric Thumb so compelling. You can hear the attention and details flood and strike as those central lyrics and themes- feeling numb with fear spreading through the veins- is reintroduced and isolated. Even in Arcadia are a band that taps into modern-day concerns and issues relevant to the listener. Not making the song too morbid or suffocating; you get plenty of light and melody in a composition that runs a gamut of emotions. The band is at their tightest and more insistent here; they always sound urgent and essential- this is perhaps their finest moment. It is no surprise the song is a live favourite as it has that sing-along chorus and a familiarity that will get many moving in time and dancing- evocative and reminiscent in equal measures. As the track gets towards its closing moments, you get that chorus-heavy ride that ensures those key themes and ideas are punched into the mind- the building tension becomes palpable. Our heroine never explodes or collapses under the weight of these emotions; she remains firm and buoyant to ensure the song has a dignity and composure to it. Employing few lyrics- they repeat lines and the chorus predominantly- you have a track with an economical sense and knowledge of its strengths. Were there too many lyrics it would distill the effectiveness and potency. The vocals remain gutsy and on-edge throughout; making that tangible sense of anxiety more real.
It is great to see what Even in Arcadia have come up with. Blue Prints continues to gain ground and wins new fans and support by the week. The guys have toured the songs around Scotland and play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow tomorrow (that has hosted the likes of Oasis) and will be a great chance for those songs to be heard by a new set of faces. Electric Thumb is the band’s key cut from the E.P. that will go down really well among the new fans tomorrow- and see them gain fresh respect and support. Having recorded the E.P. live- hence that live sound and feel to things- it gives Electric Thumb a really direct and emotional sound. Gore lets her stunning and evocative voice hit its peak throughout the track. Expertly letting the song’s anxiety themes bleed into the vocal; you get an emotive and nuanced performance that compelled me to repeat the song- to hear that vocal do its work. It manages to summon up so many possibilities and ideas- bringing to mind the great Punk icons Patti Smith and Joe Strummer. You get so many different sides and genres coming through- from ‘80s Indie to ‘90s Grunge- whilst retaining a distinct accent and originality. Garvin ensures his guitar summons enough emotion and electricity to do the song full justice. Mixing hard-hitting fears with something lighter and more introspective- you get melody and heart among the barbed-wire intensity and bite. Never encroaching on the vocal or stepping too far out front; you get a performance that superbly lifts and drives the vocal- providing the song’s edginess and danger. For a song that looks at smothered emotions and uncertainty; Garvin projects so much colour, emotion and riffs into the agenda- whilst offering something more soothed and contemplative when required. Chris Gore ensures his bass keeps the song controlled and disciplined. Given the weight and importance of the foreground, you need a bass player who can tie everything together and keep the sound stable- Core manages this with expertise and intuition. Melodic and light when the song reflects; striking and viper-like when the volume is notched up- again, the instrument is used to drive the song and propel that lead vocal. Blending wonderfully with his band-mates, you get an accomplished and nuanced performance- from someone who has been vital in shaping the band’s sound. A player with a clear identity and determination; it will be great to see how this talent blossoms across future releases. With Martin providing a stunning and masculine backbone; you have a drummer that has the strength and intensity of the Grunge legends- the Dave Grohls and Matt Camerons- but with an Indie/Gothic sensibility. Because Electric Thumb ventures between genres and decades- going into Punk and Alternative grounds- you get a song that invokes Pixies and Foo Fighters; The Cure and Patti Smith- Martin handles everything with ease and produces a commanding and dramatic performance. Backed by an assured and wonderful production value- it is a live-recorded song that has polish to it- you get plenty of clarity and energy coming through. The highlight of Blue Prints; Electric Thumb is a triumph from one of Scotland’s most scintillating and promising young bands.
There are a lot of acts coming through at the moment; each one provides something a little different from the rest- it can be daunting deciding who the worthy ones to follow are. Even in Arcadia have a great local fan-base yet their popularity stretches beyond Glasgow and Scotland. Having been inspired by the likes of Blue Oyster Cult and Blondie- in addition to Grunge legends and Punk heroes- combined with their own voice and sense of style. The combination works wonders in their music; sounds and sensations that have enthralled fans and lead to some big predictions- I can see the guys being festival headliners a few years down the line. Ensuring their keep consistent and busy; Blue Prints is a confident and assured statement from a band on the rise- I shall review the E.P. below. Scotland is a country that has always been synonymous with musical endeavor and quality- the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Primal Scream; Idewild and Orange Juice call Scotland home- yet few critics and media types focus their attentions here. In addition to modern acts like Chvches and Young Fathers- the latter of who won the Mercury Prize last year for their debut album- are showing what pedigree and force Scotland has, Whilst there are some great solo acts out of Scotland, they are more synonymous with their bands. I am not sure whether it is a personality/community thing- Scottish musicians find inspiration when surrounded by others- or something else; it is a part of the U.K. where more people should focus. Most of the Scottish bands I have witnessed tend to play harder Alternative sounds- as opposed to Pop and Folk for instance. Glasgow is a cultural epicenter and a city that is showcasing some of music’s most tantillsing modern prospects- from Chvrches and Prides through to Catholic Action and Tijuana Bibles- all the way to the Synth.-Pop of WHITE. It is not surprising Even in Arcadia sound so confident and ambitious given the sort of musical community and contemporaries they have. Less bustling and compacted than London; Glasgow is nurturing some fantastic artists that we should all behold- set our sights away from the likes of London and Manchester for a while. A lot of Even in Arcadia’s contemporaries have a sense of predictability to them- not showing great originality or presence- yet our featured act have distinction and clear personality. Creating music that you can escape to and get lost in- a perfect antidote to Christmas sounds and the overly-gleeful parade of carols- and discover something wonderful. Those female-fronted vocals give the music a depth and richness that few other bands possess- the likes of Chvches and Happy Meals boast tremendous female vocalists- and create lasting after-impressions. If you go into the market and want to create Grunge/Alternative-Rock sounds, it is vital to create that balance of tradition and originality: have something that evokes a sense of the past yet sounds fresh and personal. Too many acts replicate Nirvana or Queens of the Stone Age; have little ambition or ideas when it comes to things. The acts that will succeed and flourish in the New Year are those who show something distinct. I can see Even in Arcadia doing some good things in 2016. It is clear they have more music up their sleeves; they want to tour as far as possible- maybe making their way down to London at some point? Blue Prints is a stunning thee-track release that shows why so many people are following one of Glasgow’s best new bands.
City in the Dark is the E.P.’s sophomore track that keeps the pace of Electric Thumb going. Beginning with a primal thud and a carnivorous bassline, you get a song that evokes images and thoughts from the very first seconds. From its raw and killer-on-the-loose beginnings, the introduction evolves and grows into something more harmonious and balanced- eliciting light and heart after a while. Portraying the transition from darkness to light; the band have spent a lot of time crafting an opening that gets you to attention and readies you for what is to come. In the city is the “darkest hour”; our heroine wants to be joined (she does not mention who) as you begin to immerse yourself in the lyrics and what they offer. The composition remains support and light; it does not needlessly tumble and strike- allowing those vocals to come to the forefront and the lyrics to be heard. Looking at souls “avoiding pain” once more the band emphasise a central message/coda to get inside the head- creating an unnerving wave and sense of unease. The band step the composition up and provide necessary weight and urgency. The percussion is especially notable; exploding and pummeling with insistency you get a track that builds in stature and emotion as the seconds progress. One of those songs that seems destined for arenas and live performances- one that could unite and captivate the crowds into song- it has a catchiness and familiarity to it. Recalling Punk masters and mistresses of the ‘70s; taking in modern-day (Scottish) acts lie Chvrches- you get a rounded and fascinating track. Being one of the E.P.’s longest songs, it is given time and chance to develop and mutates- that central vocal has its own endeavours and ideas. Building in intensity and precision; you get caught in the whirlwind of emotions and desires. Whilst the song looks at the city’s darkness and the haunted figures that linger; there is some mystery to it- you wonder what has inspired the track and how it came to be. One of the most rounded and emotive songs from Blue Prints; City in the Dark is one of those songs that could gain serious radio play very soon.
Weave a Web (Acoustic) shows a new angle to the debut E.P.-era track- giving it new life and meaning. The lyrics are more decipherable and there is greater clarity on this recording- making the lyrics more relatable and tangible. Our heroine seems trapped and is waiting in a safe haven; there seems to be a danger nearing in and you can sense that anxiety. What you get from the song is more bare emotion and live-sounding flair than before- the song is less gritty but more haunted. If you consider Nirvana and their live recording for M.T.V. - where they were unplugged and incredible- you could hear new meanings and nuance in their classics. Stripping back their album tracks- they performed a few covers among the set-list- you got a chance to see a hard and vibrant band take things back and reveal some sensitivity. Weave a Web works wonderfully when propulsive and granite; it has a new appeal and relevance when the guys take it back to basics- making it sound like a new and original number. Our girl is in the web and waiting to trap her prey- her voice sounds even more gripping and dramatic on the original cut. You start to wonder the origins of the song- who she is battling and what has caused this- and naturally you go to relationship grounds. Backed by bouncing and flowing strings, you get a more honest and soul-bearing vocal- impossible not to think of Patti Smith when it is in full flight- that gives the song new dimensions. One of the lesser-heard tracks on the E.P., it at least shows how adaptable the band are- reinventing their own material and offering a different sound. Whilst they are an electric guitar-based band who plays harder sounds; it is nice to end with a song that has some emotional outpouring and something less busy. Bringing Blue Prints down to an impressive close, you feel compelled to go back in and revisit moments; take in stuff you missed first time around- those layers and details that may drift by first time. If you want to discover a great young band with a distinct sound and a sure future ahead, then spend some time…
WITH Even in Arcadia.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/222928015" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
Follow Even in Arcadia: