Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Early Years

This is another one that should have gone up ages ago. I've had a copy of The Early Years' self-titled debut album for over a month now, and am just getting round to posting on it now. Shame on me. Then again maybe it's not such a bad thing. You see, the more I listen to this album, the more I like it. It's not that it's particuarly 'difficult' and needs repeated plays to appreciate all of its complexities. Far from it. There are strong melodies, some great bits of guitar noise, and heck, at times it even strays close to that particular strand of melodic indie rock that's so popular these days. But it's never bland. The songs are too good for that.

I guess there are two main influences - one I can see, one I can't. The one that I do get is the obvious homage to early 90s indie, particularly the recently-repopularised 'shoegazing' bands. Sorry guys if that sounds cliched, but I can definitely hear echoes of the likes of Ride et al in there. Lovely, measured, chiming guitars on the slow songs. Magnificent layered guitar noise on the louder ones. But I can also detect a faint whiff of the likes of the Stone Roses too. So far, so good. And for many music fans of my age, so nostalgic.

The other one is Krautrock. Now, I'm at a bit of a loss here, because I've never really heard much of this kind of music. The likes of Can and Neu! have always been somewhere out there in the realms of legendary bands that I know I should check out, but never really get round to. So all these people who talk up the Krautrock connection, I bow to your superior judgement. And of course to the band themselves who acknowledge the influence explicitly. Maybe the (appropriately-titled) song Musik Der Fruhen Jahre is the closet I'm getting at the moment to that elusive genre.

Anyway, the album is totally great, and well worth your money. It seems to have slipped out quietly, without much fanfare or even critical trumpting by the press. Or maybe I've just missed it. I hope so, becuase The Early Years deserves as wide an audience as possible. After seeing them live a few weeks ago, I was a little surprised at how quiet some of the recorded tunes were in comparison to the wonderful effects pedal-laden noise they kick up live. But that's no bad thing. A fine album, and an equally fine, but different, live show. A band with more than one trick.

You can catch them supporting iLiKETRAiNS on a short UK tour at the moment. They're in London at Cargo next Tuesday. iLiKETRAiNS are good, but if The Early Years are on form, they might blow just the headliners off stage.

According to this interview, Song for Elizabeth is the band's favourite, so here it is, with The Simple Solution.

Download: The Early Years - Song for Elizabeth
Download: The Early Years - The Simple Solution

Buy The Early Years


Simon said...

I saw them at Truck Festival (from the edge of a packed tent in which Brian Eno was apparently right at the front, although a blazing hot midday was probably the wrong atmosphere for full effect in retrospect) and I can see where both reference points are coming from - there's a lot of slow build and cyclicism in the rhythm section about them as well as the layered guitars. I'd suspected they might not be as good on record, but I might well have a look.

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