Posts Tagged ‘rose parade’

Being that the album isn’t officially released until 18th February and considering how much effort, money and deliberation has gone into the finished work, it seems only appropriate that any seminal listen of the debut Rose Parade record be as careful, private and thorough as possible. Despite most of the songs having been publically available in live or demo form over the past couple of years, this moment is sure to be a milestone in the burgeoning Ayrshire independent music scene and deserves to be treated as such.

Consequently, one finds oneself digging out one’s highest quality pair of headphones and sitting down on a dreary Scottish Sunday afternoon to absorb the eponymous work from start to finish, the only distraction being occasional pensive sips from a mug of steaming coffee.

And one is not disappointed…

rp

Midnight Wine provides an absorbing and atmospheric opener, allowing approximately twenty seconds of gentle wavering feedback and plucked strings to guide the listener gently towards a window to the mind of the Rose Parade quartet, before an unrepentant trifecta of assured chords, jolly glockenspiel and stomping kick drum ushers in a distinctive and instantly congenial vocal, thereby hauling said listener through said window and permitting no option of escape until the boys have had their say.

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Now, when you have an album that flows from start to finish, as one complete and considered work – which, let’s face it, is the mark of a quality offering – it’s generally desirable to set an enduring tone, for the entire piece, with the first lines and Midnight Wine’s contribution is no exception…

“Summertime has got me crazy, sitting laying in the sun.

I took my love and we got crazy but now I’m sitting by, by my loaded gun.”

In just a few bars, the listener is handed a perfect summation of the Rose Parade modus operandi – the opening line conveying happy and contented connotations of an easy life made up of long, hot, lazy days tying in with the pleasant and cheerful foot-tapping rhythms forming the calm and measured surface of the sound, juxtaposed with a nod to an unsettled mind and abrupt ruminations on violence which point to the darker depths of the band’s occasionally murky, often longing and nostalgic, lyrical content.

As the song progresses, the continuation of this lyrical theme melds with a timeless quiet-loud aesthetic and a guitar tone harking back to the golden era of the rock scene. As well as providing a succinct outline of intent, track one succeeds in emanating what is sure to be a cross-generational appeal and giving subtle rise to the notion – in the mind of anyone within earshot – that picking up a guitar might just be the perfect idea.

On the subject of Rose Parade’s cross-generational appeal, it is impossible not to notice the similarity of the track titles A Better Pill to Swallow and The Dark Side of the Sun to those belonging to The Jam and Pink Floyd, respectively. At first glance, this is easy to interpret as either coincidence or an acknowledgement of the influence of iconic bands of the past on their own sound. However, after hearing the album several times over and feeling the resultant assurance of this band’s prowess and bright future, this nod to the work of such iconic bands begins to feel more like a subtle acknowledgement and confirmation of their own confidence that this is the first major step on an exciting and fruitful upwards trajectory.

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A song-by-song analysis would only serve to cheapen the first-listen experience for others, so prudence suggests that the way forward is to examine some of the more obvious standouts and then look at the work as a whole.

The majesty of the album opener aside, looking to The Sea of Lights and Grace will exhibit material destined to, someday, warrant a slew of main stage festival appearances. Grace, in particular, feels like the track people will point the unconverted to in future, as they relate the story of the time they saw Rose Parade perform in the kitchen of an Ayr flat, long before their success.

Appearing just past the halfway mark, the instrumental Friday Night Fight provides a welcome pause for reflection, while keeping the pace going as it leads towards the captivating pairing of upbeat rhythm and doleful lyrics that is Sue.

Violent Tides and closing offering The Dark Side of the Sun serving to showcase the more sparsely introspective end of the material, the latter’s claustrophobic vibe, equal parts beauty and menace, warning that “time won’t heal too deep of a wound” and closing on the cryptically chilling refrain of “totally honest, totally honest.”

To go back to the idea of an album working as a whole, the achievement of this admirable feat can be seen in the way track one tails off effortlessly into the opening of Awake Tonight and even the later inclusion of the glockenspiel is vaguely – yet knowingly – reminiscent of the opening offering. As the album progresses, subtle lyrical throwbacks to previous tracks combine with the group’s own signature melody and consistently accomplished guitar and vocal work to ensure the continuation of this seamless eleven track journey.

There are moments which evoke long nights of lonely reflection, choruses which provoke sing-along moments while getting ready for a night on the tiles with the mates and tunes that perfectly soundtrack an exhausted but cheerful Sunday teatime, looking back over a weekend well spent.

Rose Parade’s debut is the sound of Scottish Indie rock and roll ticking all the right boxes.

It would be wrong to do them the injustice of spending too long comparing their sound to that of more established acts. With that in mind, let’s just say that their pop sensibilities should appeal to consumers of the more mainstream branches of rock and indie – there are actually, as much as this is a potential bone of contention, echoes of Be Here Now-era Oasis, which are certainly not unwelcome and are subtle enough not to be derivative – while the wistfully introspective lyrical moments and incorporation of quirkier elements into their sound should serve as a draw for the more involved or refined music fan.

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As far as criticisms go, for this offering very few are possible. That said, there are consequences of creating such a thematic and whole-sounding debut record which so perfectly encapsulates the sound previously plied on the live circuit.

From an outsider’s perspective, it is difficult to see where the band will go from here. As much as what is displayed in this first record is a most impressive achievement, it would be a tragic waste of Rose Parade’s talent and innovation if they didn’t now seek to push their sound in a new direction. How well this goes, only time will tell.

For now, however, the band should be riding high on a wave of success of their own making.

Such a triumphant debut must be celebrated and there could be no better way of doing this than to play the shit out of it at every live opportunity.

Rose Parade is officially released on 18/02/13 through the band’s website, iTunes, Amazon and Play.com.

The band will play an album launch show in Glasgow’s 13th Note on 01/02/13.

Rose Parade on Facebook

Rose Parade on Soundcloud

[Continued from previous entry…]

With the groundwork for the more established portion of the evening having been set, the consistently fantastic Rose Parade follow the furore of The Hostiles with a slightly more mellow approach to music.

The inclusion of this eclectic collective in any sort of Ayrshire Showcase is an absolute given and their placement on the bill is such that they serve as a welcome breather from the more chaotic and riotous recitals which lead up to their spot.

As Ari, Ed and Stuart meander through an anthemic setlist that necessitates the use of banjos, harmonicas and glockenspiels – as well as the more standard guitars and drums – their folk-tinged indie pulls the crowd together into a cheerfully beery sort of mutual consciousness, as feet tap and heads nod to the calm but emotive soundscape they create.

Rose Parade are an undeniably unusual act but the beauty of it is that this impression is conveyed without ever seeming contrived. There is no great emphasis put on their set’s incorporation of the unconventional; It is merely a part of what makes Rose Parade who they are – purveyors of fantastic and quirky music which succeeds in not insisting upon itself.

And, of course, there are a smattering of more tradtionally mainstream rock moments when the foot tappers become foot stampers. The aptly-titled Grace proves a particular crowd favourite, due in no small part to its simple but ridiculously infectious ‘da da da, da da da’-style chorus, and their recent run of plugging new track Midnight Wine online pays off when its live rendition goes down an absolute storm.

By the time the applause has subsided, Bellow Below appear to kick things back up a notch with their set which succeeds in maintaining the standard set by their recent Bar Bloc performance.

The boys are possibly even more self-assured this time around, with everyone on the stage looking like they absolutely belong there, as Richard establishes the set’s tone by instigating a back-and-forth chant of “waayyyy” with his audience before the band charge through a technically-impressive set which seems to delight in presenting those watching with grave potential for neck injury.

Jamie visibly relishes his position of frontman, for this gig, as he seizes every opportunity to stride out on As In Bear’s makeshift guitar/drum platform, which has now found its way to the front of the stage and undergone a transformation into a catwalk of sorts, and thrusting his face into those in the front row as the band pick, strum and shout up a euphoric racket.

Although all of the members have enjoyed fairly lengthy tenures in the Ayrshire and Glasgow live music scenes, the group’s current incarnation, as Bellow Below, is a relatively youthful one. It is therefore all the more remarkable that they find themselves so high up on a bill littered with pretty prestigious acts and fail to look even remotely out of place.

Bellow Below - Photograph by Kenny Bates

Filling the two headlining slots are thisfamiliarsmile and The Darien Venture who are very much the crowning glory of the event, both being signed to indie labels and enjoying hugely positive levels of recognition. There will be a more appropriate time to take an in-depth look at their impressive live output in future and, for today, it will suffice to say that they placed the cherry firmly on top of a spectacular occasion.

As much as the artists are a veritable credit to the Ayrshire Showcase and manage to do themselves, the organisers and their fans – old and new – proud, it is impossible to overlook the fact that an astounding amount of thought and planning has also gone into this event, yielding equally fruitful rewards for all involved.

Throughout the day, there is a merch stand set up in the corner which, as well as giving everyone playing the opportunity to ply their various wares, provides a high-profile sort of feel. The provision of the option to go and browse demos and t-shirts afterwards is a definite stroke of minor genius which makes each performance seem just that little bit more authentic and meaningful.

The organisers’ shrewd utilisation of networking skills and well-maintained personal relationships with band members mean that all acts are present and correct for the duration of the showcase, happily sipping on complimentary beer and wolfing down pizza as they show support for their peers. This has the desired effect of ensuring that, at no point in the day’s proceedings, the place feels empty or half-full and crowds of people arrive at various times to an ever-more-burgeoning venue.

For today at least, Pivo Pivo feels like the hub of the Ayrshire music scene as the different bands and their respective entourages and hangers-on make the place their own for the evening. The Hostiles tourbus sits proudly in front of the venue as they are interviewed for local radio inside it, familiar faces from As In Bear’s previous gigs join them in scoping out the rest of the talent and the Bellow Below boys hold merry but boisterous court in the smoking area between acts.

Where the performers are concerned, Sunday 5th September is a day of simple considerations and gestures that are lapped up by a willing crowd. For organiser-in-chief Kenny Bates, sound aficionado Michael Butler and the rest of the Pivo Pivo staff, however, it is the successful culmination of months of hard work, not only in the creation of this event but in the tireless pursuit of making their venue the go-to place for unsigned talent in the West of Scotland.

Perhaps the single most telling indication of today’s success is the difficulty it presents those who are present with the intention of documenting and reviewing. Such is the energetic, passionate and ultimately involving vibe throughout the event that it is nigh on impossible to remain just an impartial observer. A difficult person to imagine is the one who would be able to remain in the background watching this spectacle unfold without their enthusiasm and shared passion for local and unsigned music get the best of them and take on the role of yet another ecstatic participant.

Pivo Pivo on Facebook

Rose Parade on Facebook

Bellow Below on Facebook

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[N.B. It is indeed regrettable that some bands received less in-depth coverage in this review than others. However, where the Ayrshire Showcase has excelled has been in the presentation of several acts greatly deserving of recognition and worthy of coverage, who will be the subject of full features in Sixteen Sixteen Six in the very near future.]