This week’s ‘New Releases Round-Up features the talents of ‘The Varletts’ and local singer-songwriter ‘Jimi Mack’.
Spiral Staircase/Mint and Marigold by ‘The Varletts’
First up is ‘The Varletts’ with their upcoming single, ‘Spiral Staircase’ and the b-side ‘Mint and Marigold’. I saw ‘The Varletts’ live when they supported ‘The Shrives’ at their Rough Trade album launch, which seems many moons ago now, and witnessed first-hand how well they get a crowd going. And so they should with songs like ‘Spiral Staircase’; a slice of ‘Ska-infused Alternative Rock’ that will have even the coyest of concert-goers bouncing along to the verses and headbanging in the chorus. In what can only be described as a perfect mix of ‘Madness’ and ‘Black Sabbath’ (I’ve plagiarised myself there), the song utilises angular guitar riffs and fluid basslines, whilst Laurie Rowland’s vocals have that ‘bored drawl’ that sums up the pains of being a young person. George Topham provides the ever-changing backbeat and Matt Drinkwater treats us to some dissonance by way of his lead guitar. It’s a great single and has the right number of hooks to be a hit, whilst retaining enough weirdness and experimentation to please their loyal fan-base.
On the digital flip-side is the long-awaited ‘Mint and Marigold’. It’s been a fan favourite for some time now and certainly doesn’t fall into the trap of being a filler b-side. It’s a great piece of music, with all the ingredients needed for an indie rock classic: hard-hitting chords, a bassline that serves the song well (without showing off too much) and drum rolls that keep bodies swaying in the crowd. There’s a few surprise moments as well, where ‘The Varletts’ change the rhythmic meter or drop certain instruments to highlight another aspect of the sonic picture. The lyrics aren’t your typical clichés mixed with some ‘sixth form poetry musings’ either, as Laurie doffs his lyrical cap to Oscar Wilde in the process, even if the song’s title does sound like a new brand of shampoo waiting to happen – a future endeavour for the band perhaps? It’s due out 26th May on all platforms, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, re-familiarize yourself with the trio by blasting out their previous single, ‘City of Sin’.
Salao by ‘Jimi Mack’
Up next is on ‘New Releases Round-Up’ is ‘Jimi Mack’, with his latest release ‘Salao’. It’s an acoustic ditty that acts as a taster for his upcoming EP, ‘Familiar Horizons’. Mack deploys a finger-picked riff to introduce the song, which is soon accompanied by some laid-back drumbeats and an aching violin, courtesy of Cameron Worne and Rob Rosa respectively. Mack’s voice is soft, sweet and doused with just enough reverb to reinforce the melancholy nature of the lyrics, which read more like a piece of abstract poetry than your usual pop platitudes. He may be a local boy now, but Jimi’s roots lay in the fair city of Belfast and this comes through in the traditional, folky sound of ‘Salao’ – which I believe means ‘unlucky’. In an era where the term ‘folk’ has become diluted, and is tagged onto anyone with an acoustic guitar, Mack manages to combine tradition with originality, creating a wonderful composition in the process.
There’s a music video to accompany it too, which features Mack and friends in the rather claustrophobic setting of a tea party, interspersed with shots of them playing. Props to Barnaby Keene aka ‘Southclaws’ for producing this wonderfully-shot piece, as it really captures the subdued nature of Mack’s composition. It’s available to view now, whilst the parent EP ‘Familiar Horizons’ will be available 23rd June at a Rough Trade launch.
If this article has piqued your interest, then why not head over to our official Facebook page and give us a like. Also, if you’ve got any upcoming releases that you’d like to submit for review, then feel free to drop us a message on the page or get into direct contact with either myself or Will Robinson.