I never really knew much about Edinburgh band Deserters Deserve Death, never mind seriously getting into their music. They appear to have vanished now, and in their place appear Edinburgh School for the Deaf.
Going to their MySpace or Facebook fan pages there seems to be little reason given for the change of name, whether it be simply a new direction for what is essentially the same band, or a re-jig enforced by a shuffle in personnel.
In any case, I was in Avalanche Records on the Grassmarket the other day (getting my traditional lecture from Kev about how I was doing everything wrong and destroying the nation’s independent record shops in the process) and I happened to catch a glimpse of a very nicely designed EP, just out of the corner of my eye.
I know nothing about the band, but a lot of my friends whose music taste I trust seem to have been ‘liking’ them on Facebook recently, so I thought that for three quid I should give it a go. And a good thing too, because these guys seem to have some really promising stuff.
The first thing I noticed was of course the extreeeemely fashionable growl of ultra lo-fi recording, particularly in the guitar sound. I have grown to be a bit wary of my own enthusiasm around this kind of grumbly noise, because I suspect there are times when I can be sufficiently smitten by the engineering of a record that at times I neglect to check whether or not the actual songs are any good.
In the case of Edinburgh School for the Deaf, generally, it works. Listening to the EP as a whole I might be tempted to suggest that I think they could do with a few more moments here and there where something breaks through the overall fug of the scuzzy, shoegazey sound. That’s more my way of saying that they might not be quite there yet, but they most certainly seem to be heading in the right direction, rather than a pointed criticism.
In fact, if you go to their MySpace page then you can have a wee listen to a couple of tracks – Love is Terminal and Of Scottish Blood and Symphonies – which are, in my view, at least as good as if not better than the tracks on the EP, with the former a cracking pop tune, and the latter a slow-building epic This is a very promising sign, and suggests there might well be plenty more to come from these guys.
I think that with this kind of music the biggest challenge is not to let the songs be overwhelmed by the sound. Melody isn’t always the first thing you think of growly shoegaze but, however minimal, I think a judicious use of melody is often the key to making the songs stand out from one another properly. Edinburgh School for the Deaf have certainly got the sound nailed, and if they can continue to write good songs then I reckon we could have another very promising band on our hands here.
Edinburgh School for the Deaf – 11 Kinds of Loneliness
(from 11 Kinds EP)
Edinburgh School for the Deaf – Love. Is. Terminal.
(naughty MySpace rip)