I like to keep things simple so I was happy to know what to expect from this debut EP. With my inherent ability to understand simple things and years of being a music lover behind me, I was ready to add four new songs by a band called Deadwall to the bowed shelves. I knew nothing about Deadwall except that they're local, they're releasing a debut EP and that I could be watching them right now if I'd spotted the 360 live recording taking place this evening any sooner than now. All was not lost though as I realised I could still listen to the performance live on Radio Leeds (good work, Mr Raw!). So less disappointed - I hit "Play".
Kicking things off to a bold start is "The Wakefield Questionnaire" with a perfectly balanced air of attitude and maturity. The tune oozes musical confidence and whether that's through the enticing intro, the elasticated vocals, the crafted rhythm or the sheer rumbling sauciness of the bass - I'm not too sure. It's probably how well all these elements fit into and over each other that left me thinking I was listening to a much more established band. The last time I heard something as resolutely crisp and well-rounded and with such immediacy as this, I was listening to Archie Bronson Outfit's "Derdang Derdang" for the first time. Not a musical comparison as such but Deadwall definitely seem to share their energy based on their opening gambit. Remembering that this is the first impression most people will have of Deadwall, the song becomes even more impressive once you hear it again.
"Curse of the Black Widow" is a different direction from the first song and hones in on an apparent respect for harmony and more traditional balladry. That said it's a dark snifter with despair to counter the romanticism being poured out. There are mentions of musical heroes in the lyrics which are beautifully and intelligently set to the music. Most significantly, I was drawn to the subtlety with which the song moves from gentle beginnings to a more grandiose finale; all in well under three minutes. If the faster side to their sound doesn't appeal then perhaps start with this instead and then reassess.
"Minus two words" was probably my choice track on first listen and whether that was production, the chasing rhythms or the playful Hammond - once again - I'm not sure. I love the cheeky soulfulness of the Hammond; it adds something that bit special to the right kind of song and always leaves me smiling. By this point I should say I was really starting to like the EP so then to hear a Hammond was like finding out there were Wagon Wheels with jam in them. Something already good had been improved with a magical splodge that in the case of this tune both gives it a vintage feel and adds dimension to the music, moving it back and forth in time.
"Metropolis, of sorts" offers haze filled pop and dreamy vocals seemingly inspired as much by Scott Walker as "Soft Bulletin" era Flaming Lips. The result is a softer vehicle, a trippy piece moving blissfully along the road with 60s psych and vocal harmonies hanging from the bumper. Musically, the song has more in common with "Curse of the Black Widow" than the other two tracks but for me, this is the perfect way to round off the EP and show off another side to the soul and sound of Deadwall. This is a mightily impressive debut and I'm looking forward to what comes next.