Warm Brains – Old Volcanoes (Marshall Teller)

August 8, 2011 by  

Warm Brains is the warped brain child of London-based DIY Rory Attwell. After bursting onto the music scene in 2004 as one third of dance punkers Test Icicles during their fleeting existence Attwell subsequently played in a whole heap of over bands, most notably goth-punks Kasms and Rat:Att:Agg.

More recently he has turned his hand to production recording with upcoming UK bands such as Male Bonding, S.C.U.M, Veronica Falls, Holy State and a myriad of others. It just happens that this experience has made Rory Attwell one of the most diverse and prolific musicians around.

Old Volcanoes finds itself heavily influenced not only by their Attwell’s ventures through music but it is also deeply indebted to vintage mid-nineties bands like Blur and Pavement. Stopping off at various 90’s platforms along the way Old Volcanoes brings you everything from uninhibited indie pop to a kind of mellowed grunge, resulting in plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.

Title track Old Volcanoes demonstrates most of what the album has to offer. Your first taste of Attwell’s slacker vocals, frequently alternating between a whine and a drone doesn’t make for the easiest listen and while the track is instrumentally and creatively impressive it catches you off balance. Listen again, however, and you will begin to understand what Warm Brains is all about.

The charismatic Let Down presents a plethora of electric guitar fuzz, upbeat sugar coated female harmonies and rolling percussion. In places the vocals don’t necessarily feel 100 percent matched to the track and it is a little percussion heavy but the diversity makes it a stand-out nonetheless.

Painting 2ft Tall Lines deviates into delicate morose guitar riffs, chanting vocals and priestly harmonies before sweeping them away with a wave of guitar fuzz and crashing drums. A concoction that serves us with the strangest track on the album.

Minus the female backing vocals, Old Volcanoes is entirely the work of Attwell himself. The result is a mix of indie pop, grunge, noise-guitar, and gothic topped off with Attwell’s endearingly-struggling vocals.

An equal measure of brilliance and the bizarre, Attwell is responsible for every other note heard on the album, every wailing guitar riff, drum roll, cymbal crash and that has to be acknowledged.

However, while the unique sound and diversity is the greatest strength of Old Volcanoes it is also it’s greatest weakness. The inaccessibility may make it hard for Warm Brains to win over new listeners and only the most open-minded will take anything away from Old Volcanoes first time through. For the average listener, should you manage to make it through the second or even the third play through then you will be rewarded with an album that literally gets better with every listen.


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