I get sent music in so many different forms it’s hard to keep track. There are countless PR lists, management and plugging companies that send you stuff all of the time but this record came to me in the way that I like the most. An unsigned band have got a project that they have put their heart and soul into and they want an opinion on it. No PR spin no ‘this is the next big thing listen to this’ just a group of guys putting their music out there for the world to hear.
The band in question is certainly new to me and will probably be new to a vast majority of you as well and they are called Starting Fires. Based in Burnley Liam Husband (Vocals) Matt Greaves (Guitar) Tom Hales (Bass) and Daniel Widdup (Drums) has wasted no time in getting their music recorded and released with the band only coming together in their current incarnation in March. They have also attracted the attention of radio having received play on BBC Radio Lancashire, so they are moving in the right direction.
This Old Town is the band’s debut EP and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. That’s not to say that record isn’t without its rough edges but it’s a promising start by anybody’s standards.
Things get underway with the Hard-Fi (Remember them!?) tinged ‘Make My Own Way.’ The production is crisp as you would expect from Sugar House and as an introduction to the band the track ticks all the boxes. Low key verses build towards a crescendo of a chorus with Husband’s vocals guiding the ship in fine fashion.
The next track ‘High Note’ is my personal favourite on the on the EP and I have a feeling that I won’t be the only one. Every band needs that one anthemic tune that really sets things off on radio and at live shows and I think this is that track. This is a proper rock track, it has a bit more of a kick than an indie tune and is immensely catchy. A great drum roll signals the tracks intent as guitars soon crash in to complete the cracking up tempo start. He central riff will get stuck in your head and the chorus has that bit of something extra which just elevates this from being just another track to being something exceptional. The interlude featuring yet more drums rolls prevents the track from becoming stale and keeps it clipping along in brilliantly barnstorming fashion. BUT… Why end it like that!?
The track just sort of stops dead in its tracks and personally I really don’t think it fits. It would maybe have been better had they not gone into the final chorus and gone for a Foo Fighters style rock ending. This isn’t enough to put me off the track which as I said above is brilliant but it’s frustrating because the track was so close to being perfect.
Title track ‘This Old Town’ follows and kicks off with some nice grunge style guitar work which sets the tone for another good solid up tempo track. Again the chorus is a good one and has plenty of sing along appeal for those of us that way inclined. I would maybe have liked the drums and the snare in particular to have had more ‘snap’ and less ‘echo’ but it’s very difficult to find fault here. The nice little guitar solo from Greaves towards the end also gives further insight to the bands inner rock star which is hovering around the fringes of the EP about to burst out.
The EP draws to a close on a mellower note with the ballad-ish ‘Stop The Rain.’ I always find that in ballads a good melody is essential, as along with the vocal it has to do most of the heavy lifting and the track does this well. There is far more emphasis on the vocal from Husband and he is not found wanting as he turns in yet another passionate performance. It’s a great way to round off the record.
This Old Town all things considered is a very promising start for a band who are just beginning to find their way. Yes, there are those moments where it is a little rough around the edges as I have highlighted but that doesn’t significantly take away from what is great about the record. All the basics are there; good vocals, song writing and musicianship. There really isn’t a lot wrong here on what is a very enjoyable debut from a band with enormous potential.