Margate – Rock ‘n Roll Reserve

Los Angeles band Margate are no newbies to music, the band itself formed in 2003 and the members learning the art of making good honest music with other bands years before, but the energy and excitement the band bring with their new release Rock ‘n Roll Reserve puts many a new pup on the block to shame. The trio obviously well versed in the art of rock ‘n’ roll have never lost going by the EP, the reason for making music and what it should bring to the listener, fun!

Margate, really they should be an English band with that name, bring an attitude and sound that is joyful, melodic and distinctly punk in flavour, almost promiscuous at times. They also add a pop element but hone it to neatly fall between the over age adolescent shenanigans of a Bowling For Soup or the more terse middle finger attitude of a Rise Against. To be honest Margate do not make a stance with anything new or groundbreaking but they make a definite mark with music that is well written, arranged, and then delivered, bringing a smile to the face and heart without resorting to gag music or lyrics. The trio may not break down new doors of sound but they more than lead the way with what they do produce, a sound that appeals to every aspect and fan of punk, pop, and rock music.  

Rock ‘n Roll Reserve was recorded with engineer/producer and former Death By Stereo bassist Paul Miner, also known for his accomplished studio work with the likes of New Found Glory, Atreyu and Thrice. He mixed Margate’s previously critically acclaimed full length album On the Other Side in 2009, an experience so positive the band were determined to work with him again for the EP.

Margate consisting of Steve Weil on bass, Doug Mitchell on guitar and Alex Helbig on drums and lead vocals, is a unit tight and instinctively creative as Rock ‘n Roll Reserve shows. The first track to show its wares and their quality is ‘Control’, a Bad Religion flavoured track with inviting riffs and a guitar solo that plays effortlessly in the ear. A confident and high-energy song that shows intense matters need not be slammed into the listener to be effective.

Before actually listening to the EP a decision to ignore the next track was virtually taken, a track that instils a feeling of apathy each time heard here at the RR centre. Hands up though, with reluctance and respect for the band it was played and it has to be admitted Margate has delivered a version of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ that is admirable and…..ok admittedly enjoyable. Actually it even made, like most of the tracks on the release, voices join in with Helbig and the backing harmonies of Weil and Mitchell. Sad but true.

The Costello (a band also featuring Mitchell) cover ‘Live It Up’ is a straight forward rock song which satisfies without leaving a lasting mark but the three remaining songs certainly make up for it. ‘Lovesick’ a cover of the Madcap tune,  is a power pop punk joy, inviting and engaging melodies and pop hooks play like a mix of Jimmy Eats World and The Police over urgent riffs and rhythms, making foot tapping obligatory. The best track on the EP ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Reserve’ flies out the gates with insurgent riffs and a bassline to drool over. Like Green Day meets Civ the song is irresistible, anthemic, and simply what punk is all about. Closing track ‘This Road’ is a more subdued but no less intense track, with echoes of The Urgencyin its more emotive tones.

Rock ‘n Roll Reserve is to hit town September 12th via Room57Records and if there is one release you go out of your way to find and party with, the new EP from Margate is it. They show and make rock ‘n’ roll the way it is meant to be, and then some.

RingMaster 02/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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The Sun Explodes – Emergence

The immediate thing that strikes as soon as the opening moments of the first and title track ‘Emergence’ spreads its welcoming arms is the quality of musicianship of the members of The Sun Explodes. Like a beckoning finger the instrumental’s guitar and synth flows invite the listener in as a solid pacey beat leads into an expansive electronic soundscape. The track is brief but big at the same time and an enticement into the debut album of the UK rock band that is hard to resist.

The Carlisle based quintet with Emergence and its nine distinctly varied tracks draw on an array of influences and genres to create a release that as a package and within each song is an aural kaleidoscope of sounds, ideas and creativity. The opener alone suggests a diverse approach and it is soon confirmed by the mighty track ‘Honour Bound’. The track pushes strongly with heavy riffs, stylised breakdowns and a tight post hardcore edge as it progresses, all wrapped in a weave of vibrant synth and electronic strokes from vocalist Dave Maclachlan.  

The vocals of Maclachlan are another soon discovered aspect of the band that is impressively strong, his delivery and sound is varied and controlled with often a very distinct feel of Howard Jones about them. Alongside the creative interplay and striking strokes from guitarists Alex Harris and Nick Yule, plus their solid backing vocal harmonies and well timed growls and shouts, the effect is balanced, forceful, and very satisfying.

As mentioned the tracks are diverse to each other and within their individual walls, ‘Resplendence’ a fine example. It is a progressive tinged track with keys that soar feeding emotive caresses into the ear as a stirring rhythm attack from drummer Jamie Harris stands powerfully out. The sign of a truly skilled drummer is usually clearly shown in slower paced and more emotionally led songs and here he combines a powerful and diverse rhythm with a control to compliment the soulful sounds. Maclachlan shows another string to his vocal bow too with high pitched harmonies that come out of classic rock vocal styles but actually remind of eighties vocalist Sal Solo from Classix Nouveux even more.

Next track ‘We’re Not Soldiers’ moves the playing field once more, fusing a God Forbid/Pendulum mix with a touch of The Browning to their own unique melodic and at times sorrowful sound on the track. Next two songs ‘Ignition’ and ‘Line One’ hit hard with a barrage of stirring rhythm, lifting riffs and eagerly instinctive melodies. Once more the drums place a framework of immense quality for the rest to feel free with their expressive play, and especially on the second of the two, bassist Mike Walker takes centre stage with his probing bass as the track explores and changes guises around him and Harris. ‘Line One’ is the standout track for many reasons but also shows the one flaw that stops the release being an odds-on challenger for album of the year.

To call it a flaw is actually wrong it is more a feeling of distraction. This track highlights more than most but at times there is a feeling of too much going on within a song, keeping the listener wrong footed too much never allowing them to settle into the track and find the glories each hold. Subsequent plays obviously solve this and in that is rewarding but in a world where instantaneous appeal is the only thing that works with an attention spanned challenged audience it could be a problem for the band. As I say not a flaw but maybe a slightly leaner idea approach to tracks could capture those with as much focus as Michael Stipe in a harem, for others the songs are as they should be and it is hard to disagree.

Emergence is as impressive as they come and though it needs a little concentrated attention to fully discover its inspired glory the effort is more than worthwhile. With a tweak or too The Sun Explodes will be massive, though actually with this release they will be well on their way as long as people give them the chance they deserve.

RingMaster 02/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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