Thursday, 31 May 2007

Review: Nova Scotia - Bear Smashes Photocopier EP

For Before Hollywood's first record review, I thought I'd post my impressions of the Nova Scotia EP I picked up at their show last Friday. 'But Cam', I hear you say, 'Cam, that EP was only a limited release and you and your friend got the last two copies'. 'True', I reply. Still, as the owner of a blog, if I can't hold things like this above your head to taunt you then what's the point? And anyway, I'm hoping that the band will put out a more widely available release in the not-too-distant future.

To quickly sum up the sound of this EP in the context of a handful of the band members' past groups, Nova Scotia are more melodic than Eat Laser Scumbag, more straightforward than Toadracer, more musically accomplished than The Sips. There's also a touch of other Brisbane bands such as Sekiden, Special Branch and Iron On in their sound. If you've never heard of any of those bands, however, I'll say that it's reminiscent of Pinkerton era Weezer fronted by a singer who sounds like Wayne Coyne* trying to outscream Frank Black. Come to think of it, at times the band also reminds me of The Flaming Lips mid-90's sound (the Transmissions / Clouds Taste Metallic period). But enough of lazy comparisons - basically it's big drums, rock solid bass lines, three distorted guitars riding over the top of everything and some real MELODIES. There's a great playfulness in the songs that I really enjoy - from the 'brrrrrrrup' noises in 'Cat's Out of The Bag' (you'll know what I'm talking about when you hear it), to the references to Metallica, to the band members talking before 'Stunted Rabbits' kicks off. On the other side of things, the band can really up the ante when they want, such as in the extended breakdown-and-build-up-again of the 7minute closer 'Stalin's Holiday Bungalow'.

As you would probably expect from an EP with a pressing of only 50 copies, it's a pretty rough recording (my favourite bit is when one of the guitarists misses his distortion pedal in 'Stalin's Holiday Bungalow'). However, I don't think this hampers things in any way; it's not like the recording is full of string quartets and horn sections - it's straight up pop-rock with a focus on melody and energy, and it comes through as well as you could want it to. Obviously it's not perfect (they have a bit of a way to go until they can better Toadracer's 'Wandering Star' EP) but it's certainly a very promising start from a very promising band. Let's just hope they stick around long enough to let things develop.

Anyway, enough of my incomprehensible ramblings. It's a good EP and you'd do well to either attempt to track down a copy or just go and see the band play these songs at a venue near you (as long as 'near you' encompasses The Valley).

Have a listen... here.

* I'm aware that trotting out the old Wayne Coyne comparison to describe someone with a slightly nasal voice is pretty much record review sin #2 (right behind 'Band X sounds like Band Y fronted by Singer Z'... oh shi..).

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