The Deepest Blues – The Separation of Parts
Leigh Walsh of Takeshi and the Kid casts an ear to Wiener/Irish lads’ The Deepest Blues’ debut EP.
This EP was released earlier this year by Vienna-based Irish rock act The Deepest Blues.
The first track, Deaf is a fairly straight up pop-rock anthem, nothing overly offputting about it. Something very interesting happens around 2:00 where it slides surprisingly naturally into a glitchy electronic section, then into a delay-heavy post punk sounding bridge, which connects back up with the main song. Stitching together different styles in this manner is treading on fragile ground; it can result in something that just “clicks”, or it can result in crabcore. Here, I would say it clicks, though more attention should probably be paid to the regular rock parts.
Second track The Mask opens up on a synth riff and is driven by a Muse-esque distorted bass line. This one’s probably a little stronger, however the mixing sounds a little dry to me. I think, however, to give a track an electronic edge you need to do a little more than put a quirky synth riff into it, really quality electronic rock has an atmosphere all of it’s own. There’s a really lovely guitar/vox breakdown in this though, with screeching whammy and ethereal vocals.
The opening of Bright Lights brings back some memories of the likes of Placebo; the guitar definitely goes in that direction, though again with some more of that pop punk sort of guitar more reminiscent of acts like Blink 182. More excellent whammy work here as it goes into another Muse-sounding breakdown. These parts really make the tracks. To me this is starting to sound like a mash up between British indie/alternative rock bands and American pop punk.
The Long Road Back has a more striking intro to others, with an almost droning synth bass and modulation-drenched vocals and guitars. Great textures here, it feels like the other tracks could learn from the production of this one. It’s second part Is a Dead End is more in the style of the earlier tracks; but twists its way into being something of a ballad. Once more, the track is spiced up with an interesting bridge or breakdown, this time through dissonant sounding chords, which fit well with the changing mood of the track.
The EP ends on a Jangly ballad titled Days Gone By. Again, another breakdown which makes the track with some a drum fill and delay heavy guitar.
As for how I feel about the EP as a whole; there’s clearly an influence from acts currently popular with younger rockers such as Paramore. Obviously being the massive hipster I am that’s not generally the kind of music I’d go in for, but people can take influences and do surprising things with them.
I do feel like this needs work. In parts, it is trying to be interesting, but not too hard, which is a good thing. But there is still a lot of standard fare; the band probably need a better catch than some clever whammy pedal usage. Though technically polished, it does sound like a “young” band to me; one which will hopefully expand their net of influences to become something more striking.
One thing I feel let down the album was it’s overall texture. The guitars had that sort of low gain modern rock tone; I have a couple of problems with this. Their sound was actually somewhat mellow but they were trying to drive the song hard. Maybe they were trying to distinct themselves from their influences which would tend to step on the distortion pedal a bit heavier, but something feels a little disjointed about it.
You CAN have great, heavy sounding lower gain guitars and there’s plenty of vintage rock, goth rock, post punk etc. to show it, but it needs to hit a sweet spot. There are too many indie and pop rock bands using this sort of sound and for this style of music, I feel you could do better. Blaring out at a club like Freakscene, it’d probably be fine though.
This could be something that’s down to production. For me, it is a little too modern and subdued. A lot of the times the snares seem to be somewhat softened; and the vocals don’t quite gel with the rest of the mix, something I’ve noticed with a lot of modern alternative rock acts. The Smashing Pumpkins‘ recent stuff comes to mind; Billy Corgan is NOT a pop star and his vocals are too prominent and dry in the mix.
Here, you have a more than capable singer but the vocals need to mesh better with the rest of the mix. I feel like the vocals do become a little samey too, a little monotimbre. It seems like the same emphasised high notes are present in every track. I think this could unfortunately be that there’s an unfortunately small number of accessible rock acts with female vocalists, and most of them follow this style – to do better, you need a frame of reference. For that reason, while it feels like a cliché in of itself, lady driven rock’n'roll is always that bit more ambitious.
There’s definitely something going on here though. On the upside, as I mentioned, on the Long Road back had a really great feel to it. I think those elements can and should be woven more deeply throughout the composition. As it is, with the more memorable parts relegated to the ever present bridges and breakdowns; it feels a bit like it’s saying “This is it now. This is the interesting bit right here.” Threading such things throughout a whole composition however, is far easier said than done.
I see this sort of music as the modern equivalent to older bands that started out playing like their influences and contemporaries, but evolved their sound over time. Guys like the Rolling Stones who just started out playing blues but became iconic in their own right. This is an EP and a lot of bands just need to lay something down before they progress. For a first EP, it’s really hard to fault this heavily. It is professional sounding and it does something interesting in parts, which is probably what they want.
In summary, I would say it probably needs more fuzz.