An interesting one this!
Several differing musical styles come together on this four-track EP from the London based trio of STILLMAN. Initially I thought that opening and title track ‘Eton Mess’ was going to break down into a hip-hop number. This probably because the basic groove and overriding riff reminds me very much of a track called ‘Ten To One’ by Edinburgh hip-hop maestros, Stanley Odd. However, it doesn’t go quite that far and turns into something that combines a really funk-laden rhythm with classic rock guitar solos. The overall vibe somehow makes me think of Lenny Kravitz. Don’t ask me to explain, though.
Without doubt, this is the best of the four tracks. It really kicks a bit of ‘the proverbial’, and is much more my kind of thing than what follows.
See, just when I was getting quite excited about this EP, the next track ‘Soon Enough’ brings me back to earth with a massive bump. It’s a quiet little number, very sensitive and more than a little touching as it deals with a man beside the bed of his dying wife and facing crippling medical bills. When the ‘time’ actually comes he reflects that essentially ‘a home’s just an asset unrealised when the piper calls.’
More of a contrast between this and the preceding track you just couldn’t get – but if it’s anything by way of consolation, the music is nice an pleasant if unavoidably melancholy.
‘Grit & Blood’ is apparently a call-to-arms for the disenfranchised and disillusioned. In my world, a song that deals with this subject matter would be a storming punk anthem that would induce many fists raised and punching the air in unison. This however is an altogether different beast although it does indeed rise in intensity in the second half.
Final track ‘The Rat’s Tale’ runs to seven minutes. Now, when I listen to a track, it tends to be all about the music more than the lyrics. (If I were more interested in the words, I’d be writing a blog about poetry!) So here’s what this one is about according to the press Sheet:
It’s ‘a modern day folktale of Swiftian satire. We watch as the marchers reach Westminster and are hurled ‘into the water jagged with steel.’ Then see The Houses of Parliament strafe the surviving commoners before detaching itself and floating down the Thames, only to implode (and explode) over a petty squabble about the main course …..’
(Someone’s having a laugh here ….!)
Still – respect where it’s due – this track’s a pretty good listen. It reminds me of some clever progressive Seventies rock epic, with some pretty exciting guitar work thrown into the mix.
Personally, I’d prefer four tracks that are more consistent in their content if you see what I mean. That said, in counter argument you would point to the fact that this EP shows the true versatility of a band that should probably deserve a bit more attention.
(Self-released on 23rd April 2012)
(7.5 / 10)