Tuesday, March 6, 2012

REVIEW// Flight Brigade: Shaw Court Sessions EP

Flight Brigade are a progressive-folk septet, composed interestingly of two families and an inherently close set of friends. Born astride Oliver Baines' marriage to Miriam Hughes, this seven-member collective boasts a certain intrinsic connection few bands can match, these six tracks emulating their innately beautiful togetherness. Humble vocals interject majestic instrumentals, guitars and drums lending the accordions and glockenspiels a sound more sublime than either could achieve absent the other. A violin and a classically-trained ear offer the 'Shaw Court Sessions' a level of regal orchestration too, ever-heartfelt and never self-indulgent. Finally, poignant lyricism and nuanced harmonies are added into the mix, a retrospective and subtly despondent tone emerging from their combination, laden with the sighs of missed opportunity. The 'Shaw Court Sessions' is, an undeniably magnificent EP.

Opening with 'Sirens', an intriguing vocal harmony plays off a quick, finger-plucked sound. A sombre mood takes hold, curiously mystifying and strangely provocative, recalling some fuzzy, far-off land, the shadows of childhood monsters causing your heart to beat faster. A pre-emptive drum falls into place, Oliver's soothing vocals spurring you on as you run. He talks of struggle, the sounds slowly layering and building. A female voice sits underneath the main vocal line, perfect in pitch. Subtle inclinations in notes make you shiver, climactic explosions of adrenaline rushing like lactic acid through your body. Lyrically we're treated to some stunning lines, trains and mountains adding to the vast, epic soundscape. 'The Hill' follows 'Sirens', a violin, delicate percussion and hand-claps backing vocals that swell effortlessly between registers. A piano instrumental splits verse and refrain, a cinematic finish leading into 'Children of Ohio's perfected nostalgia. Innocent and simple and all the more potent because of it, a hopeful sense of childhood memory prevailing like it never has before. Graceful in its construction and composition, this is retrospection at its best!

'Seven Seas' is the start of 'Shaw Court Sessions' second half, and it demands reference to Arcade Fire's 'Sprawl II'. After Oliver sings "stuck here instead", I half expected to hear Regine Chassegne sing her famous "mountains beyond mountains". Far from a bad thing, Flight Brigade emulate the same feeling, but execute it at a slower pace, comprehending the lyrics with admirable emotional attention. The 'Door That's Never Opened's high notes and the recognisable folk sounds of 'When the Water Whispers' close these thirty minutes as wonderfully as any. Lyrical genius and dark, lush instrumentals amalgamate into a final and triumphant parting of ways.

Stream 'Sirens' down below, then head over to Flight Brigade's site and grab a copy of all six tracks. You can download the whole EP for whatever price you deem appropriate, but after streaming all the songs you'll want to support the band in any way you can! All their effort for potentially no reward makes these seven musicians' brand of rock-infused folk a rather humbling one, big, orchestral and passionate, but also quietly and unashamedly profound. So, listen to 'Sirens' below and explore this fantastic EP in its entirety over here!