Glowing Underground - Various
This is a six track EP from Fierce Panda records which attempts, in its own words, the vaguely impossible - to capture a fleeting moment in the Scottish music scene without looking like bandwagon jumpers. Of course, Franz Ferdinand are probably to blame for the bandwagon accusations that might be made, but this is still a very worthy effort and if the ghost of the Franz is never far away we can at least pretend to ignore it.
It might have been wise to leave Dogs Die In Hot Cars off this EP. Not because it's a bad song, but surely they need no introduction? Anyway, you get 'Pastimes & Lifestyles' from the 'Please Describe Yourselves' album and it sounds rather like Marillion played at the wrong speed; not necessarily a bad thing but the band are capable of much more than this and it feels a little like a wasted opportunity. Amateur Guitar Anti-Heroes, follow and, apart from having a woeful name, manage to lift proceedings somewhat but not to any great heights. Staccato guitars and a lone trumpet create a great atmosphere, but the song is a little weak. A bit more welly is required. X-Tigers fare much better, despite sounding a little too familiar, 'Elements' is a great little song - well-written and with obvious thought gone into the construction. A tight introduction sets you up for the change in speed and tempo that comes half way through.
Multiples effort, 'Megafist', seems a little unsure of what it wants to be. An instrumental track, it doesn't really have enough variety or originality to stand on its own. Barely two minutes into the song and it starts to repeat itself and it's an effort not to jump to the next track. Which, in hindsight, is a pity because Odeon Beat Club sound fantastic. '1000 Arguments' is a mean, moody little song, with a melancholy feel to the lyrics and the mournful, fat sounding guitar. It's melancholy, yet manages to uplift at the same time which is a neat trick if you can pull it off. This Familiar Smile are also great, combining a familiar quiet/loud sort of construction, yet managing to do something slightly different with it. A boiling pot of guitars breaks contrast nicely with the understated verses and it all build towards a nice frenzied climax.
It's clear when you listen to this EP that the best bands have been kept to the end. Odeon Beat Club and This Familiar Smile stand head and shoulders above the other songs. Saying that, this is still a worthy effort and well deserving of your support. It's a little unsatisfying, but that's the nature of these things. If it manages to arouse curiosity and interest then its done it's job and this little CD does that job very well indeed. See the website www.fiercepanda.co.uk for more details.