Review: The Slow Readers Club – Cavalcade

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: , , , ,
 
Overall Impression
9.0


 
Lyrics
9.0


 
Musical Quality
9.0


 
Originality
9.0


 
Total Score
9.0


 

Release Date


13 April 2015

Country


England


0
Posted September 24, 2018 by

 
The Review
 
 

I absolutely love this band from Manchester, who rock very catchy, often uplifting tunes surrounded by a cloud of old fashioned shoegaze doom and gloom. Front man Aaron Starkie has a great voice, also when singing live, and is responsible for giving this band a strong reliable sound, supported by the well known Joy Division inspired heavy bass lines and guitar riffs that so many shoegaze bands lean on. For those who love Joy Division, but would have liked to hear Ian Curtis in a more upbeat mood, this band is a recommendation in particular.

The albums first track ‘Start Again’ opens with alluring, curious sounding tones, quickly followed by a rhythmic guitar, bass and drum rhythm, setting up an agitated pace. After this lead singer Aaron Starkie takes over, soothingly singing in a jagged melodic manner (you can almost imagine him stamping his feet while singing) contemplative lyrics:

Another day has just begun

Many hours I waste in wonder

Waiting for the time to come

When I’m extraordinary

Time will come to take its toll

Wish I could start again

Wish I could start again

The albums second track ‘I Saw a Ghost’ is an excellent song with a kicking, lively melody, pumping drums and leading, mood enhancing bass lines, pushing you forward and making it hard to sit still. I found myself often moving around like the lads from Madness used to do in their iconic music videos. This song has a very strong bridge section, leading up to the chorus, and to me it is as interesting as the chorus itself. This song never bores. It was brought out as a single and has been viewed well over 150.0000 times by now on youtube; a modest success for a niche band that deserves more limelight. The music video that accompanies this track is fittingly shot in an empty 80’s style school building, with Aaron Starkie walking through the empty hallways and classrooms at the beat of the song, or stamping his feet while singing, wearing his trade mark black (near)turtleneck shirt and trousers while singing:

I am broken I am seasick

I am feeling cursed

Now some would say that’s more than I deserve

I am empty, I am hollow

I am solemn verse

My soul is bared for all here to observe

The same solemn, classy black dress-code applies to the other band members. During the chorus, while belting “I saw a Ghost, I saw a Shadow”, the images of the band members are visually broken up in flickering 80’s style stripes and flashes, filling in their silhouette and reminding of the manners in which our TV screens would flicker back in those days when antenna reception was poor. This song and its clip fittingly and convincingly ooze an 1980’s vibe and to me feel archetypal for The Slow Readers Club in its entirety.




“Forever in Your Debt’ is another good song, that only slightly bends down under the quality of the albums previously heard track. It is construed out of the same basic ingredients as so many Readers songs: a dominant pulsing bass line in the tradition of Joy Division, accompanying guitar sounds to deepen the melodic mood, and Aaron Starkies piercing voice which has just enough darkness to it and which follows repeating, simple verse-structures, flowing into a more powerful chorus (typically in haunting minor-tones), supported by swelling guitars and drums.

‘Plant the Seed’ follows the same recipe, and I like to add that it starts with Aaron singing in a beautiful high pitched voice (reminding me of a cooler version of Jimmy Somerville), only to switch several octaves down soon after. The same happens throughout the song, up and down, showing us the wide range of this lead singers voice. With its mid-album songs ‘Days like These will Break Your Heart’ and ‘Don’t Mind’, the band switches to more contemplative songs with a calmer vibe. The latter one being the most underwhelming track on the album for me.

Luckily it is followed by the best track of the album, ‘Cavalcade’. It easily also sits in my top 3 of all round favourite Reader songs. There is a nice Russian fan-video to be found on youtube, showing a a girl practicing a fitting warrior style exercise routine. The song is haunting in a very uplifting way and the melody is to die for. My only criticism is that this song only lasts a little more than 3 minutes and that the epic chorus isn’t drawn out longer.

‘Fool For Your Philosophy’ and ‘Grace of God’ are good tracks as well and easily identifiable as Readers songs (not to say that they are sounding completely similar, but sometimes the similarities do seem very strong). ‘Grace of God’ sounds good as a studio recording, but I found it a lot more vicious and piercing sounding in a live recording I heard. I love this track but am slightly underwhelmed by its recorded version, which is too smooth and not biting enough for me. Make sure to look for a live version on youtube to fully appreciate this track.

There are also some lesser songs on this album. I won’t call them album fillings, but I found myself skipping over tracks like ‘Here in the Hollow’ and ‘Don’t Mind’. ‘Secrets’ on the other hand is a moving song with haunting lyrics and a more prominent role for the piano, and the same goes for the albums closing track ‘Know The Day Will Come’. This album has several very good tracks, but some songs sound perhaps a little bit too much alike. Made up from the same Reader ingredients, feeling interchangeable. Not all songs on this track reach the same top level of quality, and I am curious what other sounds the band members are able to produce hopefully in time.

That being said, I am generally impressed with music albums if they have at least 4 or 5 stand out favourite tracks for me out of 10. With at least half of its tracks considered stand out songs, this album is a modest classic for me, and it already withstood the test of three years time, still being a favourite in my music collection and on my mp3 player. I heard them play live as well and some songs sound even better when played live than as a studio recording (Fool for Your Philosophy for instance, as well as Grace of God which is much more biting live). The lads from The Slow Readers Club have a loyal fan base in and around Manchester, but deserve more mainstream acknowledgement.

 

                              ****

Stand out tracks: I Saw a Ghost, Plant the Seed, Cavalcade, Fool for Your Philosophy, Grace of God.

If you like this band, also check out: The Boxer Rebellion, In Letter Form, The Twilight Sad, Interpol, Farro, Joy Disaster, Arcade Fire, The Killers, Japan Suicide, Principe Valiente, Portrayal, The Domino State, IAMTHESHADOW, Black Swan Lane, Motorama, Kino (Russian: Кино), Viktor Tsoi (Russian: Виктор Цой), Agatha Christie (Russian: Агата Кристи).

 

Extra Background info: Between 2003 and 2007, Aaron Starkie and some of his Readers band members were active in the band Omerta, signed with the respected Manchester label Northern Ambition, and had success with live concerts and with the release of several singles, which each sold out on the day they came out. When The Slow Readers Club released their self-titled debut album towards the end of 2011, it featuring several former Omerta songs (for instance ‘One More Chance’ and ‘One More Minute’) together with three new singles: ‘Feet On Fire’, ‘Sirens’ and ‘Block Out The Sun’. In 2013 the Readers released a one-off single ‘Forever In Your Debt’ and its B-side ‘Days Like This Will Break Your Heart’. The music of The Slow Readers Club has been showcased by the BBC on both Radio 6 and the corporation’s Introducing shows, as well as by XFM, NME TV, Q Radio, Sky Sports and ITV. Their concerts tend to sell out quickly and they have a compact but vibrant fan base. They also played at festivals such as the Tramlines, Party in the Pines and Blackthorn festival.

 

Track list:

1. Start Again

2. I Saw a Ghost

3. Forever in Your Debt

4. Plant the Seed

5. Days Like This Will Break Your Heart

6. Don’t Mind

7. Cavalcade

8. Fool for Your Philosophy

9. Grace of God

10. Here in the Hallow

11. Secrets

12. Know the Day Will Come

 

Lineup:

Aaron Starkie – Vocals

Kurtis Starkie – Guitar, backing vocals

Jim Ryan – Bass

David Whitworth – Drums

 

Record Label: self released album

Cavalcade, The Slow Readers Club : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-j1TzkT1RsBI54dLT-WY0xHtIec-80hF

 

And of course don’t forget to check out my long youtube playlist with many good songs, mainly in the genres shoegaze, post-rock, indie, atmospheric rock, melodic metal and dream-pop.


Natalja O.

 


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