I'm a fool for CD covers. The art of downloading has taken a hell of a lot of the magic away for me, as an ugly itunes tracklisting doesn't really have the same appeal as a Beatles or Stone Roses masterpiece. Yeah you can click a little icon on the bottom left of your screen but it leaves you empty, gasping for more. Something to look at while you're mundanely having a bath or tolerating your partner's favourite programme. Okay, you can do anything on a phone these days, but I'm not a very technologically advanced gentleman. I have a pink Nokia something-or-other with a cracked screen and some Cinderella-like shoes hanging off them. I'm not gay, I'm just BORROWING.
One thing I also like to do is pre-judge the music on the cover, a risky and unethical task I'm sure you'll agree. Usually it works. Take Bjork for example. The cover of Medulla or whatever it's called looks like some weird foreign bird that's got her head so far up her own arse that she's forgotten to make good music. Correct? Yes. Often however, results can be varied.
This tenuous and predictable link brings me to Volcanoes. Thanks to the British postal system I'm currently embracing modern technology by looking at their website. On the centre- right lays their 'Vexihomp' cover. Four strange looking chaps in beanie hats and scarves sat on a wall, poking fairy versions of themselves with sticks. I begin to panic in search for a judgement. Sweat runs down my face as I hopelessly search for clues. Straws are clutched as I struggle for answers to this mystery. Should I press play or should I go with type? In my utter desperation I make a sudden assumption...they're going to sound like Hot Chip. Fuck's sake.
After a long lie down I return to their website for a read and a listen. It's clear the band take themselves seriously. There's a few jokes about how they've been gigging for six years without recognition but underneath I can sense some thinly veiled anger for Camden Wankers and their unnoticed efforts. As a self-proclaimed 'Camden Wanker Hater' I feel their pain, because what we have here is a very nice six track effort, bristling with influences yet refusing to be pigeon-holed in to one particular era or genre. From the Franz Ferdinand singing The Coral joy of 'The Pageant' to the brilliant fuzzy Guided By Voices-like closer 'The Atheist', there's a vast spectrum of differing styles to engage the listener. None of the songs clock in well above three minutes either, a small yet relevant point when concerning many guitar bands, as far too many tunes seem to outstay their welcome, a great ghastly grinding badger of mine.
The highlight is the 'Blur' era Blur title track, which chops and changes style in three minutes more times than many bands have managed in an entire lifetime. The only time their homage to guitar music of the last 20 years loses its originality is on 'Triceratops'. A nice and modest number, but a little too close to The Strokes for comfort. There's plenty of echoes on other tracks (the Alex Turnerish cutting social commentary on 'Beat Me To The Bull' and the Flea-like thumping bass throughout) but there's not too much heavy reliance on conforming to the past. Everything is tight from the quirky vocals to the rhythm section, the latter being something that really lost importance among British guitar music during the most turgid and sluggish moments of Britpop.
All in all, a cracking little mix this. A four man oxymoron, they combine originality without actually being too original. Far too many times a singular influence runs throughout an EP or album like a tribute band without the same songs. Here they blend seamlessly into one another like a jigsaw of all the great indie music of the last 20 years.
Not a bloody clue what a Vexihomp is, mind.