Nine Black Alps
Glitter Gulch EP
Nine Black Alps made a big impression last year with their album "Everything Is" almost threatening to bring about another grunge revival. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and the rockers have cut themselves a niche in the British music scene with their own brand of unhinged rock 'n' roll, without bringing along any unpleasant copyists.
The Glitter Gulch EP is their latest release and marks something of a change in direction. Fans need not worry, the band haven't made a free-form jazz odyssey just yet, what they have done though, is pay greater attention to crafting memorable melodies than they did on their debut LP.
Opener "Over The Ocean" is built around an urgent two chord riff and has a melody lifted straight from the Tim Wheeler book of scuzzy pop-rock. This is a band with tunes and they will hurl them at you any chance they get.
"Llana Song" is in very much the same vein, its big rock sound would easily slot onto "1977" and no-one would notice.
The next two tracks, "Attraction" and "String Me Along", though, are the ones that make the EP so interesting. They mark the biggest departure from their grungy sound, and rely on acoustic guitars to carry their Brit-pop reminiscent melodies. Also, rather strikingly, echoed slide guitars sporadically cut through the mix, creating a stark atmospheric tone that hangs over the rest of the record. This is certainly a bold move for the band, as a move towards a dark, country tinged aesthetic may alienate some
of their fan base. But if they stick with it, they're in for a real treat, as these songs show a new found musical maturity, and prove that Nine Black Alps are perhaps more of a special band than they have been given credit for.
The final two tracks see a compromise between their new and old sounds. "Never Coming Down" pits duelling acoustic guitars against a resounding, almost "glam" style rhythm section, but with its nondescript indie-schmindie lyrics it is one of the EP's weaker moments. "Coldhearted" is a live cut, very much a rock song, but with jangly guitars and close harmonies showing how they've grown as a band, probably thanks to such extensive touring.
Whichever direction they decide to go in for their next full album, this EP makes the prospect of a new record a very exciting one indeed.
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