Laurel Canyons - Jericho Tavern, Oxford - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Laurel Canyons - Jericho Tavern, Oxford

by alan duttfield Rating:8 Release Date:2012-02-25

Laurel Canyons are a four-piece hailing from Sheffield, supporting The Crookes on their short promotional tour beginning in Oxford, final date Derby November 30.

Most of the audience, like myself, are here to see The Crookes, but it’s always interesting to see new support bands. It’s either, these guys (general gender phrase) aren’t at all bad, or the bar beckons, I don’t mean the legal bar either.

Laurel Canyons new and only EP to date is titled Now We’re Rebuilding. It’s made up of five tracks and was released November 17 on Heist. The set they play tonight consists of the EPs five songs. An instrumental Introduction and 'Cry Hard Cry Fast' give all the indications they are aiming for an indie/soft-rock tag; heavy drum-led charge, with intermittent and repeated guitar riffs, loud and bold.

Then comes their new single, 'Owe Nothing'. Jake Cope on lead vocals conjures up a gentle ballad with a surprisingly well-balanced falsetto range, reminiscent of Ben Howard. A lover lost in recriminations and anger (“You're a fraud”… ”I’m left in white page doubt/ tongue tied and unable to speak”), summing up the physical and cerebral impact of a relationship consumed with rage. As the lyrical frustration mounts, so does the bands momentum. Just as you expect a crashing drum, cymbals, a quite exquisite restrained Paul Burdett on lead guitar keeps emotions in place.

Another time another place, strings and a brass section set as a backdrop to 'Owe Nothing'. It could be something big. I hope you have the copyright sorted out on this one. The theme of storytelling continues with “Love in the Wine', an a capella opening, gentle drum-stick percussion. A respectful audience absorbing just how good lyrics and arrangements can settle a venue. I bet this is an easy one to sing to an audience.

Parental breakup, Dad’s OK, he’s away with a new wife. Mother, old wife, she takes solace in the wine. Where was the son? “He just got up and left/ like it didn't exist”. Reconciliations abound, but in truth, “Where was I?” It’s cathartic, it’s age-old, it’s new, it’s a bloody good song.

'Never Said a Word' builds from a single voice to percussion, introduction of lead guitar, then they raise the volume and stay in semi-rock mode until the final chord. More akin to Cry Hard Cry Fast.

Well, Laurel Canyons certainly have something going on here. Their journey is just beginning. They are work in progress. They can and should be tighter in timing and rhythm, as per their Yorkshire compatriots, The Crookes. This EP contains two very strong songs. I don’t need to list them again.

I would suggest they are the kind of band who just may get luckier the harder they work. Well worth seeing live. Word of warning, just like me, you may not make it to the bar.

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