An often recurring theme in my reviews is the blurry lines between genres, and how some of the most interesting music straddles several, creating its own niche within which to develop. Some genres seem to purposefully contain very loose common characteristics, or already be a cross breed of several more traditional and rigid categories, often acting as a dumping ground for anything that does not comfortably sit within the root types. A prime example would be “alternative rock”, encompassing as it does anything perceived to be a little more left-field or different to classic rock styles. Bristol three-piece Armchair Committee fall well within the “Alt-Rock” classification, but do so with heavy nods to Blues, Grunge and Black Sabbath.
Imola is their first proper studio EP release, and opens with Boxcutter, one of the best pieces of melodic rock music you are going to hear this year. A meandering journey of a track that moves from gentle swinging mid-sections through some of the most scuzzed up, Iommi style riffing and psychedelic, wigged out guitar parts heard in a while. But all the time it remains locked down by hook laden vocals that do a proper ear-worm job on you and some curiously refined drumming, that somehow fits perfectly with its military precision. The guitar sounds are the sort of thing that six-string geeks dream about and the squelch of the bass is up there with the best that I have heard. It is one of those tracks that just fits together perfectly.
Curiously, a curve ball is then thrown, as Codeine (A Plan Of Sorts) is a much more hypnotic track, rammed with the sort of creative instrumentation that Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins moved into at their peak, overlaid with a vocals straight out of the Folk Rock handbook. The result is unexpected and oddly beautiful, imbued with a entrancing quality that immerses you in the song, drawing you in to the poetic lyrics that conjure vivid images in your mind; “one foot in the desert but it feels like it’s snow” , lyrics that shows these are writers with a strong grasp of language and storytelling.
The e.p. rounds of with To Arms, a short build-up track that serves as an extended intro to title song Imola, a bluesy romp, all fuzzy guitars, chugging bass and throaty vocals. Parts sound like Black Keys, parts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and the epic chorus and solo have more than a hint of Muse about them. Grand stuff that really gives you a sense of that arms aloft, mass group love-in that you get at big stadium shows as everyone sings along and embraces like they have known each other for ever.
Full marks to the guys for being able to pique the interest of a quality producer like Ian Davenport who has an impressive CV including the likes of Band of Skulls, Duke Spirit & Nine Black Alps. Having him on board has made all the difference as the production is fantastic, really selling them as musicians and songwriters.
I would happily say Armchair Committee are currently my favourite band with a BS postcode.
Imola is released on 13th May. More on Armchair Committee at www.armchaircommittee.com