Southampton’s Old Crows are a groovy little 5 piece making alt-rock with huge, memorable choruses in a similar vein to Hawk Eyes, early Foo Fighters, XII Boar and The JCQ. ‘Volume One’ is their debut EP and it’s been a long time coming seeing as the band formed in late 2012.
‘Volume One’ deals in massive hooks, riffs and the sort of infectious melodies that will be bothering radio stations up and down the country. If Old Crows know how to do anything right it’s writing catchy-as-hell tunes and ‘Volume One’ is absolutely jam-packed with them. The song writing on this EP is incredibly strong with a special mention given to EP opener ‘X-Wing’ with it’s simple yet effective guitar solo and ‘Athenia’ with its Offspring-esque ‘whoas’.
The real highlight of the record is the work of guitarists Chris Lyndon and Xaris Nikolaidis who stuff every song with wonderfully memorable riffs which have been given a satisfying rawness that adds a lot of punch to the songs. What’s even more impressive is just how many different riffs show up in a single song without messing with the cohesiveness of the track.
Another element of Old Crows’ sound that continues to give the songs more impact are the razor-throated vocal talents of Mike Barham who grunts his way through the record with surprising clarity. There’s still plenty of melody in the man’s voice which definitely helps add another layer to Old Crows surprisingly textured rock music. The band also employ some far silkier backing vocals to help support the melodies and the marriage of the backing vocals and Barham’s growl works incredibly well.
It’s here where we have to take a U-turn and talk about the negatives. While Old Crows definitely succeed in showcasing some amazing song-writing talent and some amazing tunes, the production on ‘Volume One’ does weaken the experience somewhat. The real issue comes in the drums which are quite low in the mix and considerably flat. This unfortunately means the songs lack a lot of impact that a better production job could have offered.
Speaking of the mix, Barham is dramatically higher than everything else and it doesn’t quite sit well with the rest of the instrumentation. The main issue is Barham’s voice almost entirely drowns out the backing vocals which are an integral part of the melody in songs like ‘Full On’.
If Old Crows return with another record of quality rock songs like this one but address the weak production that damages ‘Volume One’ to a degree then they’d be unstoppable. If we look past this issue, ‘Volume One’ is loaded with plenty of great songs that have been meticulously constructed to worm their way into your head and stay there. Old Crows are definitely an exciting young rock band with a bright future and the song-writing on ‘Volume One’ showcases some amazing talent. I want to see this band go places and ‘Volume One’ definitely lays down the ground-work for Old Crows’ entire career. Add this lot to the ‘Ones to Watch’ list.
Old Crows’ ‘Volume One’ is available to purchase digitally now. You can get it direct from the band’s Bandcamp page.