Rams' Pocket Radio - Dogs Run In Packs EP Review15 Mar 2012
Rams' Pocket Radio is the work of Peter McCauley, a very talented singer-songwriter, pianist and drummer. Championed by the likes of Gary Lightbody..."He's an extraordinary musician..a frightening talent" and 6Music's Tom Robinson among others Peter professes to work around the ethos of designer Dieter Rams with "purity, simplicity and longevity in mind." All sounds good so far; talent, credibility and endorsement.
Talent may lead you to be a percussionist for The National Youth Orchestra and credibility and endorsement may mean that you become the support act for Snow Patrol, however it doesn't necessarily follow that talent can be used to write great, good, interesting or even individual songs. People have made a lot about the so called demise of the guitar band of late. Personally I think there are some very good guitar bands around. Furthermore I'm not that concerned that they are not a mainstay of the current musical landscape, who cares what or who is making the sound as long as that sound is good? So whilst choosing to arrange and compose your songs around a piano based format similar to Keane's is possibly not the most commercial route to take it doesn't matter a jot as long as the tunes are good enough because the music will win through.
Unfortunately whilst McCauley may well be a very talented musician this EP does not showcase him in the best light. There are few sparks here, few glimpses of something 'extraordinary'. The four track EP is not one dimensional but it does rather feel like a painting by numbers exercise. Freedom of expression seems to have been quashed in favour of sanitised production and pleasant rather than inspirational music. Dogs Run In Packs is certainly well played, the piano pieces in particular are very pleasing to the ear and McCauley can carry a tune effectively enough to make some of these songs potential crowd pleasing anthems.
I proffer the opinion that this will not be enough, not yet at any rate. There is no 'Somewhere Only We Know' or 'Chasing Cars' here, Peter's song writing still needs honing and crafting if he is to make his mark as a strong contender in this niche market. When the lights go down, when the emotions run high, when couples are choosing 'their song', when the encore beckons and all that's left is the light of ten thousand lighters who's song will be sung along to? At the moment I'm afraid Coldplay don't have anything to worry about on that score. What comes next may prove me wrong.