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Godsticks: Godsticks (EP)

Godsticks are a band getting a fair bit of attention in the UK press at the moment, featuring in a major "Classic Rock" publication and having their track "Only When Provoked" feature on its sampler-CD. Listening to this EP, their first release, it's easy to see why. Classy musicianship, a classy vocalist able to deliver melodic and rhythmic phrasing, and good progressive rock songs with heaps of influence from the jazz world: it's a whisker away from being very exciting indeed.

The band have been together since 2006, starting off doing progressive music covers before adventuring into their own music. They are a trio comprising Darran Charles (vocals, guitars, piano), Jason Marsh (bass) and Steve Roberts (drums). On the Godsticks EP itself, however, Steve played the drums only on "Only When Provoked" and "Puppy Gardener": Aaron Evans being the drummer on the other three tracks. Darran and Jason are the composers of these songs.

Godsticks's cited influences are Yes, Frank Zappa, Mike Keneally, Mike Stern, Jaco, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Allison Krauss, Bjork, Faith No More, Shaun Baxter, Rufus Wainwright: quite a mixture there as I'm sure you'll agree! Like all good bands their soundscape ends up with its own identity rather than sounding like clones of someone else. Particularly appealing is the way that Darran's singing allows the imposition of melodic phrasing onto jazzy rhythmic structures; it's a very appealing soundscape.

If the band is missing anything - and that's arguable, personally I would say they are - then it's the addition of the musical color of a few more instruments. Clearly they would need to expand from a threesome. They already have the difficulty of Darran playing both the guitar and the piano, so it can't be anything that they haven't already thought about doing.

"Clinical" has probably the least influences from the jazz world of these five tracks, but even here the piano phrasing owes something to that world. The soundscape's rhythmic pattern on these pieces is constantly shifting, especially so on "Puppy Gardener", the flexible voice following the band's lead all the way; super guitar solo towards the end. If anything the tracks featuring Steve Roberts on the drums, "Only Whn Provoked" and "Puppy Gardener" - which I am assuming are the more recent ones because he's designated as the band's drummer - are the more complex and pleasing, but there's not a great deal in it.

A fine debut. Four stars is a bit mean of me.

Track Listing:-
1) Not the Face (4:20)
2) Only When Provoked (4:41)
3) Puppy Gardener (5:27)
4) Venial (4:50)
5) Clinical (3:30)

Added: March 31st 2009
Reviewer: Alex Torres
Related Link: Band's MySpace page
Hits: 2721
Language: english

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