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The Hellfire Club
Desolation Blues EP
The Hellfire Club have no time for niceties. Opener ‘I Got Blood In My Eyes For You’ is a thrillingly volatile experiment in elemental chemistry; here guitar, rhythms and vocal are conjoined in an explosive compound.
Theirs is a world of backwoods bedlam, the titular ‘Desolation Blues’ a brain-bleeding summons to delta blues apocalypse, reminiscent of My Morning Jacket or the guttural psych-rock of Archie Bronson Outfit.
However, when they’re not going for guts and glory, The Hellfire Club also do a nice line in delicate lament.
‘I’ll Keep Mine’ unfurls its tender philosophy; here the guitars are divested of their compressed rawness, the vocal yelp is replaced with a soothing murmur.
The overall effect is not unlike Lambchop’s ramshackle compassion. Hushed and hypnotic, ‘The Dead’ is a disturbing reverie, a sinister closing cut, its nightmarish tendrils clinging to our consciousness even after the final note.
All told ‘Desolation Blues’ is a step up from The Hellfire Club’s assured debut, no mean feat, in fact they have yet to write a song that is anything less than excellent.
At last Coda seem to be hitting their stride. Previously they’re threatened us with potential, sporadically great if somewhat inchoate and inconcise.
These two tracks suggest they’ve corralled that promise, converted it into substance. The Distillers-esque ‘Let’s Digress’ serves up a pummelling flurry of rhythms, a primordial gloop overlaid with razor-edged guitar and confrontational male/female vocals.
Sheet-steel guitar and primal drums are the bedrock of ‘They’re Closing In’. Here Julianne Shawe's vocal is eloquent and intense; artfully conveying the lyric’s gripping claustrophobia, the narrator assailed by her own doubts and insecurities.
The production is a little rough-hewn but, this minor quibble aside, these songs flag up Coda’s burgeoning talent, the sound of a band coming into their own.
More than merely a rebranding exercise, Cutaways are a wholly different proposition from this group’s previous incarnation, Bêtes Noires.
They’ve shaken their Pixies-inflected fever to be borne anew in a world of indie-pop melodica.
A halfway home to wistful contemplation and outright euphoria, ‘Big Cheer’, is a catchy enough example of junkyard pop - keyboards and guitar bolted astride a heartfelt vocal – without being truly gripping.
‘Memories of the Radio’ is a fine and impassioned song, slathered in nostalgia and a keening sense of regret. The lyric has its own direct, unaffected charm.
There are handclaps aplenty and some sweet male/female counterpoint vocals. At times things seem a little cutesy, but with a slight tweak of the bittersweet contrast Cutaways might yet become truly endearing.