Sunday, February 21, 2010

“There’s drama in the sky” Screaming Maldini’s ‘And The Kookaburra’ EP

There’s something about the name Alcopop Records that makes me underestimate the label and their bands each time. It’s too easy to assume (wrongly) that each new signing will play nothing but sugary, sharp bursts of fizzing indie-rock. And Alcopop does have that on offer, in a good way, but they also have the rockin’ Americana of Stagecoach, the gentle indie-folk of My First Tooth and the summery power-pop of Stars and Sons.

But even knowing that my first reaction to hearing the name of their new signing was not a good one. Screaming Maldini?! Are they a metal band? Or the audio equivalent of a cheap, caustic cocktail? Well the Sheffield six-piece are a cocktail but quite a classy one. This is how they describe themselves:

We are Screaming Maldini, we live in Sheffield and we are four boys and two girls. We like choirs and trumpets and cabasas and vibraslaps and guitars and handclaps and glockenspiels and horses and breakdowns and organs and verses and violins and 5/4 and 7/8 and more horses and choruses.

Across the five songs on “And The Kookaburra…” (their debut release out tomorrow), the band manage to confound expectations and continually surprise and delight. As per their ‘likes’ above, Screaming Maldini wield an armoury of instrumentation and erratic time signatures, using this to deliver joyous, exotic mini-epics of songs that utterly defy pigeon-holing. Lead track ‘Secret Sounds’ is a refined version of Los Campesinos! with more airy harmonies and less yelping. The romantic yearning and jazzy floating rhythms found in ‘The Extraordinary’ or ‘I Know That You Know That I Would Wipe The Snowflake From Your Eye’ are ‘jazz’ in the same way that Efterklang or Grizzly Bear are jazz.

Throughout the music is shot through with such invention that one song can never be truly representative. And just when you think you have an handle on the band they finish the EP with ‘Miniatures’ which samples vintage audio equipment demonstration instructions then alternates reggae-skank rhythms with grandiose organ-and-trumpet driven prog-pop. And it works.

If you like what you hear thus far head over to the Alcopop shop or check out the short Screaming Maldini and Stars and Sons tours this week:
Feb 21st - Sheffield – The Grapes
Feb 22nd – London – Old Blue Last
Feb 23rd – Brighton – The Albert
Feb 24th – Northampton – The Labour Club
Feb 25th – Oxford – The Cellar

And from now on I’ll make sure I don’t wrongly pigeon-hole Alcopop Records. They are less a single bottle - more a very extensive and very fine drinks cabinet.

Screaming Maldini
And The Kookaburra… [BUY]

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