ARMCHAIR COMMITTEE are a three-piece alternative rock band, based in Bristol. Since forming almost two years ago, they have gained a reputation for their ‘live’ shows, with BBC Introducing declaring them ‘ones to watch.’
A demo EP (‘Toybox Sessions‘) came to the attention of Ian Davenport, producer of Band of Skulls, Nine Black Alps and Duke Spirit, and towards the end of last year they were invited to record this debut formal release with him at the helm.
I often find that the tag of ‘alternative rock,’ is a kind of code for ‘grunge’ and certainly that’s the feeling I get from the lead track ‘Boxcutter.’ The initial chugging rock-riff bursts into something more dense and dark after about a minute and the powerful vocals reflect a sort of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) feel. The guitar buzzes throughout and the bassline is rock-solid with the final explosive minute of the song’s four and a half minute duration peaking in a cacophony of searing noise. (The only bit I’m not so sure about is the mid-song ‘break down,’ where the music drops and the vocals become that bit more exposed and hushed. I can understand the reasons for going there and the desired effect of contrast is surely achieved, but to me the voice becomes a little stretched.)
Which is a little surprising really when you hear the following track, ‘Codeine.’ This shows the band in an altogether different mood – its a slower track, more bluesy in nature with shimmering guitar sounds and softly sung vocals. No stretching here, even though as with the previous song, there is the mid-song break. This time though, when the song’s depth returns it reappears with a more ethereal feel and celestial sounding harmonies.
‘To Arms,’ is only two minutes long. It’s a quiet little instrumental that builds in intensity towards its very sudden climax. The production quality sounds different to the other tracks and it abruptly ends just as it sounds like it may be headed somewhere … strange!
Title track ‘Imola,’ is definitely the strongest (although I do really like ‘Codeine‘ also.) There is a little bit of a ‘grungy,’ feel to this one as well, but I’d say it’s more of an out and out ‘rock’ track than anything else. There’s a real ‘determined’ rhythm to this one, the beat’s incessant and the vocals strong and slightly rasping. The backing harmonies are pitched just right and the guitar solo zips around the whole song, tying it up nicely.
Overall, when you consider how early on in their ‘career’ they are, ARMCHAIR COMMITTEE have come up with an EP that’s certainly worth checking. And by all accounts, it would would be an evening well spent at their live shows. (For upcoming UK dates, see here.)
Personally though, I’ll go on record as saying that ARMCHAIR COMMITTEE have all the constituent parts to develop into an excellent hard-rocking driving ‘rock’ band. I’d prefer it if they lost the ‘alternative’ tag and concentrated on straight-up, in yer face rock ‘n’ roll.
It’s maybe just me / my age – but I feel that ‘alternative / grunge,’ sounding music ‘dates’ very easily, whereas ‘ROCK,’ …. well, doesn’t!
(‘Imola’ EP will be released on 13th May by way of Limited run hand-made CDs as well as being available to download via the usual digital outlets.)
[The band will play their ‘EP Release Show’ on Saturday May 11th at The Lanes, Bristol.]
(7 / 10)