This self-titled, self-released debut album has made such an immediate positive impact on everyone I’ve played it to that I’ve deliberately held back on writing this review for a bit, just to be sure I didn’t get too swayed by other people’s enthusiasm and could actually react for myself.
Anyhow, Bottle of Evil is a contraction of Evil Hand and Bottle of Steven, the solo projects of the two gentlemen involved, the former of whom used to be in a band called Genaro.
I don’t want to get too side-tracked here, but it is worth mentioning that I really thought Genaro had promise. Their debut album came out on the now-resting Benbecula Records a couple of years ago, and although I never really clicked with it myself, I thought the band had some cracking songs and loads of potential. Apparently there was a second album written, but they never recorded it before they split. As Kurt Vonnegut might say: ah well, so it goes.
I am going to get the term shoegaze out there and out of the way immediately, because there is a lot of shoegaze in this stuff, but that seems to be increasingly popular these days. I like this kind of music, more based on texture than hook, because even if the song itself is a wall of guitar noise, which it can be here, there is still something dreamy and blissful about it. This makes me feel like a disturbed child, slowly and relentlessly knocking its head against the wall until it’s brain has been mashed into a bloody pulp, and it may be responsible more than any other kind of music for my preference for the hands-jammed-in-pockets indie head-nod, which is as close as I ever get to dancing.
There’s definitely a touch of the early nineties in Manchester to Bottle of Evil, even a touch of Laid by James about it at times, which is one of my all-time favourite album. A couple of tunes, such as Holding Up the Bar are less successful, from my perspective, but their acoustic strum serves to break up the album really nicely, meaning the thrum of guitar never gets overbearing.
When the band sent me this through they didn’t tag the mp3 files properly, so I actually listened to the songs in alphabetical order until quite recently, when I went on eMusic and got the proper tracklisting. It’s an odd experience, but I like the album in the correct order a lot better, and it shows that they’ve put a lot of thought into the sequencing, which always makes me feel good about a band.
Good stuff – I recommend this. Turns out my friends were right from the start!
Listen on iTunes and buy here
Photo Credit: MySpace