By Great North Patrol
Watching glimpses of Great North Patrol live it wasn't difficult to spot a comparison in both their stage presence and their music to bands like Oasis. And when I saw them live a year or so ago they reminded me of Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene.
So it's strange that when I come to listen to the CD, recorded you couldn't really say that any of these influences are apparent. Whilst a great northern feel and spirit comes to the fore almost immediately, it reminds me a lot more of the contemporary bands in Manchester than the sound of their predecessors.
The music is much more laid-back, mellower, almost acoustic in nature. "Battle" is a perfect example of this, reminding me of bands such as Alfie or Starsailor. The chorus is the focus of this song, as the verses are pretty much add-ons rather than solid verses. They provide an emphasis to the melody, but that's about it. The track really is mellow, so its hard to get enthralled about any of it - in a tempo sort of way, rather than a lack-of-quality sort of way.
"Last Lonely Road" follows the same sort of pattern to "Battle", acoustically driven and very laid-back. The lead guitar is not dominating, which is good. It does sound like a Noel-penned lead, so its good that it isn't focussed upon too much, for originality sake - but as it is, it's ok and well placed.
"Eye on the Bigger Prize" closes the CD off, with a more fuzzed lead guitar sound typical of the 90s Manchester scene. The verses drop back into the sound provided in the first two tracks, perhaps even a more varied mixture of influences - and some added vocal styles, harmonies and effects. The chorus, lead, and the long extended outtro however, are stereotypically Oasis.
With the current media focus on the new Manchester sound, progressed via labels such as Uglyman Records (and bands such as Alfie, Starsailor, Elbow, Rio 6, Badly Drawn Boy) there could well be a place for bands such as Great North Patrol. But the whole point is that the media and industry are seeking the "new sound" - and perhaps Great North Patrol retain just a little too much of the old sound to be picked up too. When they don't sound like Oasis, they are refreshingly original; technically the band are tight and have shown they are good musicians. However, they do tend to sound very retro at times, especially when playing live, and it is this that may well be their downfall.
Anyone looking for something new, then look elsewhere; anyone happy and still excited by the Manchester sound of the 90s then Great North Patrol may be right up your street.