The Musical Outcast has taken on a decidedly more international flavour in recent months and with the arrival of Orange County, California’s Idlewar that looks set to continue.
The trio of James Blake (Vocals, bass) Rick Graham (Guitar) and Pete Pagonis (Drums) formed back in 2014 and this record right here, Dig In is their current EP.
Opening track Chunk Of Me throws the listener straight into the heart of the action. There’s no intro to ease you in, the first verse is on you before you know it. The track has got a real ‘rough and ready’ feel to it aided by the slightly gruff vocal from Blake. It’s all very back to basics, it’s short, sharp and to the point, something epitomised by the guitar solo which scorches through the track in the final third.
The pace drops down a notch for Out Of My Head, a track characterised by the gritty, rumbling guitar which drags you through the gutter. Once again I’m a big fan of the guitar solo, while the vocal is typically energetic and brings the spark to really bring the track to life. Eleventeen is a real old fashioned ‘head-nodder.’ If you’re head isn’t bopping along to this one you’re doing rock music all wrong my friend. It’s short on finesse, but like the rest of this record it’s simple yet effective and cuts straight to the point.
Penultimate track Feel The Pain is probably my favourite on the EP. There’s a great mix of grittiness and heaviness and bucket loads of old school rock swagger. The track doesn’t so much hammer from your speakers as waltz into the air with all the attitude of hormone filled teenager. Again the band haven’t tried to do anything revolutionary, they have just taken a classic hard rock sound and added their own spin and in this case especially it works magnificently.
The pace then kicks aback up a few gears for closer Stronger, ensuring the band go out the same way that they came in. The band’s sound on this track in particular but also the record in general is a proper mish-mash of hard rock royalty. You can hear a bit of AC/DC in there, you could even argue that there is a hint of Black Sabbath in there, but the overriding feel for me on this song is that the trio sound like a less polished Foo Fighters. (That’s less polished in a good way by the way) The phrase I used earlier was ‘rough and ready’ but I think that that really suits them. They are almost like a throwback to the days before rock music became clean and sanitised. Idlewar’s music sounds rough and dirty, exactly how rock music should be.
To coin a cliché Dig In is a real grower. It didn’t really click with me instantly (I thought it was a bit pedestrian through the middle third) but once I was a few listens down it just got better and better. I enjoy the band’s back to basics approach and the sheer rawness of their music is a nice change from much of the sanitised and safe sounding rock out at the minute.
I’d definitely recommend Dig In to any rock fans out there, Idlewar are certainly a band worth keeping an eye on.