Monday, 20 May 2013

EP Review! JAWs - 'Milkshake EP'

B-Town Dream Indie band JAWs recently released their long awaited 'Milkshake EP'. Let's see whether their Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...
One has to wonder just how the b-town scene started. It seems odd that a group of bands seemingly linked only tangentially by a sun drenched naivety towards love and dreams, and a conspicuous number of members hailing from dolorous day jobs at Morrison's, would collide into each other almost by accident and form one of the most reverb soaked and idealistic scenes in recent memory from a city known best for Black Sabbath and a ferocious metal scene. But it happened, and JAWs seem to be being tipped by many to be one of the scenes brightest new stars.

Having up until now released only a handful of singles and a portfolio of gigs mainly around their home town of Birmingham, the band have decided to compile their complete recorded output on this new EP entitled milkshake, a seemingly apt name given the thick synth drenched texture of many of the songs here. Opening on the sway of reverb and jangling guitar chords that is 'BreeZe', the band waste no time in bursting into a chorus of 'I want it I need it yeah' that neatly surmises their musical attitudes, you don't need to know what "it" is, but you imagine it has all to do with the sun being summoned by the surprisingly passionate dull-set tones of singer Connor Schofield as he communicates the longing of the British youth for the fabled long summer. The song is the longest here, and builds a nice, driven momentum throughout that contrasts against the relaxed slur of the words.

From here the EP explores a number of different avenues, most anchored by catchy synth lines and atmospheric reverb that emanates relaxation and slacker attitude. There's EP highlight 'Stay In' that builds around a repeated refrain and guitar lead that builds beautifully into a cacophony of distortion and drums that serve to highlight JAWs' considerable talent with atmosphere, and vocalist Schofield manages to latch onto an effortlessly singable and engaging melody in the chorus that drives the song through to its intense climax. Or the almost equally engrossing 'Surround You', which features by far the best synth line on the EP and a great use of lead guitar to double up the vocal and coax the song into the seemingly effortlessly relaxed and synth backed chorus. It's these kind of moments that really serve as the highlights of the EP and its JAWs' brilliant deployment of atmospheric instrumental writing that set them apart from fellow b-town prospects like Peace and Swim Deep.

The EP does however have its weaker moments, and there is a noticeable dip in quality when it comes time to the earliest recordings on here, 'Toucan Surf' and 'Donut'. It's not that the songs aren't good, as they both feature enjoyable hooks and impressive musicianship, they merely suffer from a lower production standard and a less fully formed grasp of songwriting than the later singles, understandable due to their early origins and reduced production budget.

Although seen by some to have been standing in the shadow somewhat of friends Peace and Swim Deep for a while, this EP neatly surmises the talents of JAWs as a stand alone prospect, and shows not only their high potential, but also their capacity to break out of the grey confines of Birmingham and evolve into the sunny shade of the mainstream indie collective over a summer promised to reflect the warmth of the music presented here. I for one look forward to seeing where JAWs advance to next as they further expand their sound.
Jules xoxo

For fans of:
- Peace
- Tame Impala
- Swim Deep
- Wide Eyed

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