Behold the good news, today brings us the release of the New Youth Bible -- the word of the day brought to us by Edinburgh School for the Deaf. Our first verses are from "Of Scottish Blood and Sympathies". The track starts out with a squall of feedback, but then settles into a measured story of death and transition.
01 Of Scottish Blood and sympathies by Edinburgh School for the
The second track, "Eleven Kinds of Loneliness" is a delicate, sad song of lovers parting. And it bridges to one of the highlight tracks, the sonic maelstrom of "13 Holy Crowns", in which the protagonist seems to be challenging the Almighty. Yes, a weighty topic, and the music matches it.
03 13 Holy Crowns by Edinburgh School for the
The players in ESftD are:
Ashley : Vocal and sweeter guitar
Jamie : Drums
Grant : Bass guitar and shouting.
Kieran : Vocal and sourer guitar.
The musical space in which ESftD travels is that space bound by pop melody and noise, the same territory explored by such worthies as The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Ride, the lamented Manhattan Love Suicides, The Velvet Underground and the recently reviewed Crystal Stilts. More specificly, ESftD straddles the noise pop/shoegaze line, with a bit of attitude. Some have used the term "shoepunk", but the band seems to prefer Death Jangle. For some bands, the danger in this style is that in the band's pursuit of feedback drenched waves of sound, the songs become shapeless. ESftD deftly avoids that pitfall because the rhythm section of Jamie on drums and Grant on bass masterfully provide a structure to contain and shape the songs, allowing Kieran and Ashley to turn up their guitars.
But despite the fuzz and feedback, furious bass and driving percussion, pop songs are at the core of the bands' work. Admittedly, the pop songs here are not songs of cheer, but I find that to be part of the charm. In one of my favorite tracks, twins Grant and Ashley remind us that "Love is Terminal:
Love is terminal, Love is terminal
At first it hides it's sickness,
At first it wouldn't dare confess
It hides it's wounds in powders and lotions,
It hides it's sores and dries it's eyes
It never complains and it's all brave smiles
Love is terminal, Love is terminal...
Originally, the song is in Grant's voice. When Ashley drops in, one wonders whether the female voice will provide a hopeful counterpoint. But her contribution parallels Grant's--"Love is terminal".
05 Love. Is. Terminal by Edinburgh School for the
A final aural note for this post is provided by my favorite of the slower tempo songs on the album, "All Hands Lost". The song is a lament over what has been lost, or is being lost, and the feeling that what is left is unsatisfying. Thus the refrain: "I need something better than this to stare into/ Something less haunted, something less haunted, something else."
04 All hands lost by Edinburgh School for the
In my view, this is a noteworthy debut album. The band has a vision, a sound that many will find of interest, and the ability and drive to perform it. I look forward to the refinement of Edinburgh School for the Deaf. If I may offer a listening note, in my view all of these songs are to be played loud, as that is the way the band plays them.
The world is a sinful place, my readers. And while I can't speak for you, I don't want to be at the end of the year without a New Youth Bible to keep me straight. If you agree, seek the good word at Bubblegum Records.