Monday, 10 August 2009

Exeter - Grey Noise, White Lies

See, I got really excited here. A release from Exeter! I love Exeter, it’s a city that thinks it’s a village, full of interesting little shops and big department stores, two Waterstones bookstores in the same High Street (or, at least last time I was there they were both surviving, though I believe the city centre has more recently been remodelled so perhaps now only one survives). There’s the Phoenix Arts Centre, a great venue where I’ve enjoyed everything from Hawkwind gigs to comic book conventions, and what at least used to be (and I hope still is) an excellent wine bar and eatery, Chaucer’s. What’s that you say? Not *that* Exeter?

Well, still plenty to be really excited about anyway, as this is a debut album filled with enormous promise and potential, from a four-piece spacerock outfit hailing out of Austin, Texas, described as being ‘four years, 30 songs and a hundred shows into its mission of leaving Earth without ever leaving the ground.’ They’ve released an EP, Intra Venus, and contributed to a couple of compilation albums, whilst 25th August sees this full-length calling card unleashed.

Exeter are spacerock in a similar vein to some other American bands I’ve written about here, most particularly The Upsidedown, in the sense that they are space-rock in the way that the term has become a substitute for shoegazer rather than a straight-forward Sci-Fi Hawkwind type thing. Then again, this is still really hard-driving, no-nonsense wall-of-sound stuff full of gritty guitars and hammering rhythms that can turn into ambient meditation on the proverbial sixpence and absolutely in the right territory for blog readers here.

There’s a real urgency and immediacy to their sound that grabs you as soon as ‘Bittersweet Vanity’ bursts out of the speakers to kick start this record as a blisteringly and furious dynamic salvo that possesses almighty verve and delivers an immense mission statement for what comes after. That’s not to say they’re a one note act, because there’s a powerful range in their work, so that ‘The Romantic’ can lean towards melodic power-pop one minute and drive straight back into a mighty cacophony the next, or ‘Red Dress’ can be swamped in dark mood whilst slowly moving from introspection to anthemic expansion and back again.

The title-track itself is a haunting and hazy instrumental drift, repetitive yet meandering and weighed-heavy with a brooding air. It’s an exceptionally well-realised, spot-on, mid-album track, setting up a second half that, in songs like the tightly-coiled ‘Window’, builds on that pensively hanging atmosphere that works towards the epic eight-minute play-out of ‘Planet X’. Dark yet blissful, swapping elegant and even life-affirming sounds with aural shock-force assaults; this record really is the business.

Exeter are Ky Williams (Drums), Rocky Reyna (Bass), Mike Parker (Guitar/Vocals) and Cameron Creamer (Guitar). Grey Noise, White Lies is released on Pop Up/Engineer Records.

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