By One Day, After School...
From Wakefield's One Day, After School... comes a four track demo bringing together tracks previously released on a number of compilations, including 'Geek Pie III' and 'Do You Suffer From Philophobia?'
First up though, is previously unreleased track 'Softly Softly.' As the only song not to have not enjoyed a compilation release, it is, rather expectedly, the weakest of the bunch.
'Softly Softly' isn't the most flattering introduction to One Day, After School...'s vocals, as you can occasionally hear the strain in their frontman's voice when he goes for those high notes, particularly during the verses. However, you sense it's nothing a slight studio polish couldn't rectify, as poor production is a problem this demo comes up against time and time again.
The vocals improve vastly when One Day, After School... take it down a notch for the gloomier, more resonating chorus. The chorus receives a further boost with the introduction of an harmonica. Never the easiest of instruments to integrate into a song, One Day, After School... handle it superbly, keeping the harmonica strains low rather than hash and piping, so it adds an extra sadness to the song.
But then, it all goes a bit wrong for the Wakefield band. Synthesised beats are introduced, and initially they bring a certain snappiness to the song. However, One Day, After School... keep piling on the synths, until 'Softly Softly' becomes a muddle of harsh sounds that's actually pretty unpleasant to listen to. Again, a better production would help but, as it stands, 'Softly Softly' loses its way towards the end.
Lifted from the 'Geek Pie III' compilation, 'Eichmann Trial (unfinished)' instantly sounds more professional than 'Softly Softly.' The vocals are much stronger, although it does have to be noted that they're far less prominent than on 'Softly Softly.'
'Eichmann Trial (unfinished)' is far more synthesised than the previous offering, with verses of rattling-dice style synths, drum machines and only the lightest touches of guitar. It's a catchy enough sound, but it's on the heavier passages that One Day, After School... really excel, dragging in a storm of synthesised, distorted heaviness with an infectious, drum-machine beat.
'Eichmann...' gets heavier as it goes along, with screechy synths putting a desperate spin on that synthesised fug and bringing the song to a dramatic conclusion. Purists may be turned off by 'Eichmann...'s decidedly artificial feel, but it has enough blurry hooks to keep the more open-minded listener coming back for more.
Originally released on a Philophobia Records EP, 'A New Low' is a song of wildly contrasting parts. None of them may sit together right, but a handful do work if looked at in isolation.
An example of this, is an introduction of simple vocals crooned over a basic acoustic refrain, which has a distinctly The Beautiful South vibe to it.
What doesn't work is the harder-rocking chorus, where everything is coated in a horribly poorly-produced, sputtering riff that'll make you wonder whether your speakers are on the blink. The pre-chorus build-up of whining riffing is about as heavy and distorted as One Day, After School... can go without losing clarity.
And then things get seriously strange. Just when 'A New Low' seems to be trailing off, a thumping beat starts up that makes you wonder whether One Day, After School... are about to go all disco on us. Thankfully, they're not, as the dance-music beat is quickly overtaken by a swell of rich, resonating piano that expands this song, and puts a cinematic twist on One Day, After School...'s sound.
It all seems to be building towards something very dramatic indeed. However, the moment this instrumental piece breaks into full-swing, it's clear that, once again, dodgy sound quality has defeated the band. The result is crackly, stuttering distortion that sounds exactly like a gig recorded with a dodgy digital camera.
'New Low' is a mixed bag; a strong introduction and an instrumental ending that proves One Day, After School... have the potential to effectively turn out a stirring, cinematic sound - at least until lack of studio gloss overcomes them.
Final track, the synth-heaped ambient rock of 'Nova Scotia' could have gone so terribly wrong, as they try their hand at that most difficult of vocal techniques: the spoken-word voiceover. It isn't as heart-wrenching a you sense One Day, After School.... want it to be, but the fact that it doesn't have you curling your toes in embarrassment is nothing short of miraculous.
'Nova Scotia' is a mournful, urban-sequel plod embellished with twangy acoustic guitar flourishes that gives it a starry-eyed feel. On the surface, it's unassuming, but after you've switched it off, you just might find its ponderous rhythms are still running through your head.
This is a frustrating demo. The quiet bits are all promising but, as soon as One Day, After School... start to get into their stride, clarity is sacrificed. There's a sense of all the best bits getting lost in translation but, what we do get, is still just enough to get you intrigued in One Day, After School... Hopefully their forthcoming twin EPs will have a neater production.