Streetcrawler EP Launch with Dr Wook, Stetsonhead and Iain McLaughlin at Bogbain Farm, 29/4/2016.Review
Friday night in Bogbain might not be everyone’s first choice of venue for an EP launch but there’s no denying the charm of the place, log fires and a well-stocked bar kept the spring chill at bay and set the scene for an evening featuring the great and good of the Inverness music scene.
Iain McLaughlin opens with an acoustic set minus the looper billed on the poster. Earlier problems with the electrics meant that he had to ditch the additional tech and rely on a purely acoustic performance. Peppered with songs from his career to date Iain is always going to be a safe bet and the songs he played from his debut album ‘We Are All Outsiders’ (was it really four years ago that it was released?!) reminded me what a great album that is. Standout track being ‘Someone For Everyone’ which sounds nearly as good on its own as it does with the backing of a full band.
Stetsonhead are up next and their chosen genre of ‘Country Trash’ is as good a description as any. Lead singer (growler?) Ali Dooner perches on a barstool and barks out lyrics like the bastard offspring of Mark E Smith and Lou Reed, while the band sound like they’ve been doused in Southern Country and Rock N Roll before being given a copy of ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and told to mess about with that and to let everyone know what they come back with.
Essentially they sound like they could easily have been spawned in the Deep South rather than the wilds of the Highlands. Their tone sits well with the barnyard setting and their half hour set is punchy albeit the sound not quite doing them justice, it’s muddy at times and on occasion difficult to discern one song from the next.
Dr Wook is of course the main draw here tonight and rightly so, the Streetcrawler EP, his debut with IMOUT Records is one he can be justifiably proud of. But if I’m honest the set doesn’t gel well with me at all. The acoustic opener has a few technical issues and whilst he deals with this with grace and humour, it does jar and seems to derail what should have been a triumphant finale to the evening.
His backing band ‘The Voltaic Disorder’ comprising of Iain on guitar, Dave Ramsay on bass and Joshua Mackenzie from Lional on drums could have added an extra element of depth and this should have been a showcase of some of the best talents in Inverness.
It may have been the sound or the various members having an off day but I left feeling slightly let down. To my ears the sound just didn’t match what I’d expected to hear. Again it was muddy and difficult to discern one instrument from another and the band didn’t sound like the cohesive act you hear on the EP and from what I’ve seen from them all before in the past.
Admittedly they do all come from separate bands with slightly differing styles, and of course used to playing different roles within those groups, so it could be a case of being out of their comfort zones. I like my loud rock noises but this was too much for me and I found myself retreating to the barn. An off-night perhaps, but one that hopefully shouldn’t distract from what really is a very good record.
Reviews are inherently subjective and it’s always hard for me to write anything overly negative about our local musicians who often put in a lot of time and their own money to get their music out to the masses. Of course there are always the sycophantic over-enthusiastic clappers who will applaud anything for fear of offending their friends but ultimately I don’t believe this is fair on the artist.
It’s easy for me as someone who doesn’t perform live to hide behind a notebook and pass judgement; I’m not the one laying my soul bare after all. But I have to be honest and write what I find.