Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hot Vestry: Dust EP

     Having listened over these six tracks for the third time, I'm still amazed by unsigned Mancunian band Hot Vestry. Having been sent a link to this EP's free download, and having promptly done so, I've come to the conclusion that we should all keep a very close eye on them. Composed of three guys, Harry Ward (bass guitar, synthesizer and vocals), Will Taylor (lead guitar, percussion and vocals) and Joe Ward (drums and percussion), 'Dust' is filled with simple alternative rock. It's brimming with a youthful passion, an element that can probably be attributed to the age of the band. Every member is sixteen, which, considering the maturity with which they play, is pretty impressive. They're not the best young rockers I've ever heard, but hell, if this is their output at sixteen, I can't wait to see what they imagine in a few years time. There is aggression. There are simple infectious choruses, but the lack of noticeable hooks make most of the tracks sluggish. Only one number here doesn't hit the four minute mark, which ends the EP nicely. The others though, tend to repeat certain sonic phrases a little often, which is starting to become a little tedious on fourth listen. A lack of pronounced scope and size here also causes a loss of power on repeated listen, but taking into account the age of the members, this can easily be righted as they mature. Like I said before though, it's going to be interesting to watch this incredibly skillful and enjoyable group change, evolve and develop with time.
     Opening with the title track, there is a subtler, softer restraint present in the beginning that breaks free half way through. From the half sung/half spoken vocals, relayed over harmonised notes, there comes an entirely different feel that contrasts with the opening perfectly. The passionate cries of “You’ve got to help me!” and  the intriguing repetition of "You’ve got suspicion in your eyes" break up the central riff well enough, but the whole song highlights another nagging problem. Too much instrumentation. With the energetic feel that the instrumentation suggests, I wanted more vocals and less filler sound, though this is probably more of a personal problem. In the end, I did enjoy the track immensely.
     'Turn On' basically does the same, be it slightly toned down, which leads unsurprisingly well into the slower number 'Snakes in the Grass'. A relatively stark intro leads the meandering guitar, but this less energetic effort highlights the vocals here. Especially on the lyric "This is the future not the past", you can hear the thick and characteristic accent, and the band's obvious desire to remain firmly planted in the 'alternative' genre. I absolutely love the vocals on 'Dust' come to mention it. They carry a certain relaxed element. Instead of appearing over-done and stressed, they sound decidedly uncaring in their delivery. I can listen to this EP and relate extremely well with the singing and the lyrics they relay. There is a definite grounded and honest emotion these guys emulate, and one I think they should try to maintain throughout their predictably long career!
      The baton of speed and energy is picked straight back up after being dropped by 'Snakes in the Grass'. 'Blood For Tears' is introduced through a fantastically confident drum beat and ends with shout-along vocals that hover above a backing track eerie in the image it conveys. A strange city void of people that, instead of appearing unnerving, transforms into the careless playground of our dreams. Outstanding. 'Be The Real Man' carries this soundscape, with similar backing vocals, but the real show-stealer is the finishing song, 'Commiserations'. All of the problems I mentioned before? They don't apply at all. Varied pitch from the singer and experimentation in sound all accumulate under the roof of the shortest track here. And by God it works. While the rest of the album is good, this closing track hits you with all the loudness and aggression that's needed in order to squeeze another listen from your ears. Hot Vestry are a band worth keeping an eye on. While all my qualms do come into play, it's the easiest thing in the world to forget them while you listen. You're way too busy rocking along to heed any attention to the length of the tracks, and that particular issue is only noticeable on repeated run-through. Considering the age of the band, I'm unashamedly impressed by what they've managed to achieve. Mark my words, this EP is the start of something huge. And as it's free, I plead you to support the band and give it a gander. To the group? Bravo! Bravo and well done!