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EP Review: Northern Central – Imogen

Coming out of Glasgow, Northern Central are Aonghas Maxwell, Chloe Robertson and Jack McLuckie. The folk/acoustic trio have just released the debut EP Imogen and I thought it was only right that I gave it the run down in the only way that the Musical Outcast knows how.

You might recognise the name Aonghas Maxwell if you have been with the site for a while from his work with Junebug and as a solo artist but this is another slight evolution from what we have heard before. The band came together when the aforementioned Mr Maxwell and Chloe met at an open mic night which they would end up hosting. The pair then began to refine their sound through weeks of playing acoustic covers and untested original material. Jack was then added to the fold after regularly jamming with the hosts.

Imogen certainly isn’t the most conventional of acoustic/folk records but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of enjoyment to be had with it either. Opening track Mice and Men is a great start and just goes to show how far good songwriting and well put together songs can take you. It’s got great tempo, while the Robertson takes the lead on vocal duties over the top of a stripped back acoustic guitar melody. The highlight though, is when the violin makes an appearance and leads a merry dance across swirling vocals and rattling guitar work later on. The blend between the vocals of Maxwell and Robertson is first rate coming across as incredibly natural.

Cracks and Rhymes is a slow and brooding affair before launching into what can only be called swirling violin based chaos. The distant anguished screams and shouts only add to the tortured feel, and clocking in at under two minutes this short, sharp shockwave of a track couldn’t be more different from the opener.

Penultimate song Rest Softly sees the band return to firmer, more predictable acoustic folk ground. The tables are turned slightly as a Maxwell takes the lead, and the blend of floating female backing vocals, gentle acoustic guitar and soaring strings creates what is the best song on the record. The track is beautifully balanced and the whole thing sounds absolutely effortless and completely natural, and when music flows like that there really aren’t many better things in the world.

The final track is Mice and Men (Devereux Remix) which as the title suggests is a remix of the opener. Crazy right? Coming in at half the length of the original the action is a lot sparser with vocals and melodies only sporadically gliding into view. The big thing that I like here is that nothing sounds forced, while the differences to the original are there for all to see the track has still got a brilliant smoothness about it.

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get from this little record but it’s a really enjoyable listen. The Glaswegian trio clearly have tremendous chemistry and that shines through in the music, giving the whole thing a fantastically natural feel. Rest Softly is definitely the highlight although it has to be said nothing lets the side down in any way. Imogen is certainly well worth checking out.

You can check out Imogen here

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