Scholars - Always Lead, Never Follow
Not many bands claim to hail from Hemel Hempstead as Scholars do; most seem to like to come from wherever's trendy at that point in time - London, Manchester, Oxford. This five piece group aren't trying to be something they're not, as their music shows, and they've taken their time over this debut release. They've been fine tuning their sound on the live circuit for a few years and this becomes obvious as you listen through the consistent sound that they’ve cultivated, blending in the influences of their idols At The Drive-In, Refused and NOFX. Right from the first track of Always Lead, Never Follow you can hear their influences - ‘Bad Business’ is all high speed drumming, mad bass playing and jagged guitars. From then on it’s a similar story, through ‘Rage Concern’, ‘Damage’, ‘More Medicine’, Scholars don’t stray from their theme. On ‘Baraka’ they try something a bit different - keyboards - but that soon disappears under the familiar weight of drums and guitars. The second half of the album is stronger with the beginnings of some more diverse sounds, but they don’t quite follow through on their promise. Ultimately Scholars are the type of band you’d expect to open the Main Stage at Reading Festival: thoroughly professional and a good listen for a track or two, then off to find a beer and burger, which for a first album is not so bad.