The OK Social Club - Nothing in Common (***)
Possibly not since The View’s debut has a Scottish band mined youthful, boozy nostalgia quite as doggedly as Edinburgh’s The OK Social Club. “Remember the old days?” sings frontman and songwriter Raff Eragona on Little Broken Bones; “do you remember…” starts the chorus to The Late 90’s; “What’s that song / it takes me back to the old days” opens Twisted Young Gentlemen – just some of Nothing In Common’s wistful appeals to free and easy salad days.
Bygone nights on the town / mornings in the gutter may not be the most diverse of muses, but it results in a punchy and accomplished debut, with the pluck of the lyrics matched by a bright and energetic indie-rock sound built from communal ‘woahs’ and exhilarating guitar-based melodies. The finished product may want for depth, but at their best The OK Social Club convey an enthusiasm that’s as hard to resist as it is to fake.
Out 15th April
Trwbador - Trwbador (**)
Since forming in 2010, Carmarthenshire’s Trwbador (aka Welsh-Dutch singer Angharad Van Rijswijk and guitarist/producer Owain Gwilym) have forged a distinctive and often impressively inventive style, with whimsical vocals pinned lightly to toybox production built from glitches and loops, glockenspiel chimes and nursery rhyme melodies.
Unfortunately, unless your tolerance for twee and quirk is notably high, the effect is likely to irritate more often that it bedazzles, with the monotonous lyrics of songs like Sun in the Winter and Red Handkerchiefs not helped by cutesy delivery and an over-familiarity with the upper range of audible frequencies at the expense of anything deeper (in both senses of the word).
Despite these doubts, however, it’s easy to keep sight of the duo’s potential, with Rain’s sideswiping welsh-language rap (courtesy of guesting MC Odlgymix) showcasing the more positive results of the duo’s idiosyncrasies, and the crystalline cadence of Safe best indicating their compositional talents.
Aidan Baker - Already Drowning (****)
Those coming to Already Drowning via an interest in Aidan Baker’s work with ambient drone duo Nadja be warned: here be an altogether gentler creature, with only the slightest notes of distortion and discord occasionally wading in. Billed as a “a song cycle inspired by various myths and folklore about female water spirits,” Baker’s atmospheric slowcore opus is insidiously immersive.
An international cast of collaborators contribute vocals (and on occasion, translations into French and German) to compositions that are sometimes straightforwardly beautiful (for instance, the string-led sweep of 30 Days/30 Nights), sometimes challengingly veiled (e.g. the insectoid, free-jazz cymbal ripples of Mélusine), but always hauntingly evocative – provided it's approached with the right level of patience. Otherwise, much of Baker’s hard work will be for nought, with Already Drowning too carefully measured to impose itself on errant attentions, but liberally rewarding for those that commit time to its chilly virtues.
Out 15th April