Folk stalwarts Yard of Ale are in residence at the Guildford Arms for the duration of the 18th Caledonian Folk and Blues Festival and they play with the confidence and verve of old hands.
Battle Avenue aren’t remotely local. “Are they from Fife?” I hear you say? No, they’re from New York. So they sort of aren’t my business – but – they’ve sent me a brilliant album called War Paint and I’m nothing if not a hypocrite when it comes to whom I do and don’t review.
Scuzzy, crunchy blues-rock guitar thunders through the core of the album, checked by screamed, agonisingly committed vocals. A looser, more haphazard version of Youth And Young Manhood – until a point, until the point where you realise the lyrics and the ability to slow the pace, that effortless lose-yourself-in-the-music quality that permeates each of the eight tracks is something Kings of Leon never had; Battle Ave. are more controlled in their unleashed register then Nathan Followhill’s yell on Sex On Fire ever could be.
No, this is closer to The Black Keys or The Dead Weather (I’m keeping my comparisons American here) – a dash of lo-fi and indie into the rock mixture keeps things spicy. On tracks like Complications W/Travelling and especially Dark Horse/Light Horse they exhibit brilliant hooks as well as whetstone-sharp riffs; the repeated mantra that I’ve got/Northern Lights in my eyes/Northern Lights in my eyes/ in my eyes running through the latter track is gorgeous, a dirty rock ballad just waiting to be released into the atmosphere. Catch ‘em for free before the Pitchfork-wielding spray-jeans brigade pick them up and take them to a place where you feel embarrassed to know their name.*
*Did I mention their CD comes with screen prints? Screen prints are hella cool.