Review of Volume 3 EP by Dance To The Radio
The Leeds based indie super-label has returned. Rather than the larger compilations of the past such as What We All Want, DTTR have downsized, offering us a quick lucky dip into their artists du jour.
It's a nice idea to keep it short and sweet. They seem to have aimed for as wide a cross-section as possible, so Volume 3 makes for an interesting- if a little uneven- listen. The 4 track EP starts with this year's surprise NME favourites, Chickenhawk, who kick us off with 'Scorpieau.' This three minute onslaught starts and ends with the most unsettling of guitar riffs and is tighter than a nun's backside in between. God knows who or what has rattled Paul Astick's cage but with screams as bloodcurdling as his I wouldn't like to speculate. A scarily paranoid beast it may be, but its undeniable quality will have you skipping back for more rather than burying it in concrete.
An abrupt change of pace comes along next with Esben and the Witch, whose haunting and atmospheric vocals are way across the other end of the musical universe. Nonetheless 'Skeleton Swoon' is a lovely ethereal affair, definitely a must hear for people who like to to dress up as wizards on mountaintops. The lazy tendency would be to lump them in with girly tribute acts like Florence and the Machine, but Rachel's voice has startling depth - Florence is more of a wailer. 'Skeleton Swoon' is a promising contribution from the Brighton based band, hopefully more of the same is to come.
However, the unevenness I speak of kicks in halfway through. It would have been great if the last two tracks had the verve and diversity of the two preceding, but they stray into inoffensive, if fairly standard indie. Olfar's 'Husk' has a nice melody and an aching sentiment: 'leave me in the sea, all rusted over.' But it's less than memorable and falls behind the standard set elsewhere on this EP. Airship's 'Spirit Party' is more engaging. Quiet and gentle but with a doggedly persistent melody and shouty backing vocals, it definitely benefits from a second and third listen. From the sound of this track the upcoming tour with the Editors soon is a good choice, they'll fit in nicely.
You can see what Dance to the Radio set out to achieve on Vol. 3 and it's certainly a savvier format than the bloated compilations of before. It's good, but it would have been nice if they branched out just that little bit further. Another couple of tracks on here to rival the first two it and this would have been a perfect 10.