The These Streets EP is one of those releases you just lick your lips in anticipation of no matter how many times you take its provocative and sensational emotive walk. Mesmeric and tantalising, the four track release is the debut release from The Graphite Set, the project of Lily Buchanan. The bio on the band website says “The idea of The Graphite Set is that one day I’ll be able to design and make a full sized stage set using my art which I can perform on. It’ll be black and white, linear, atmospheric, and will give me the best sounding reverb you have ever heard….” This epitomises her passion for art and music which has seen the girl from East Lothian, Scotland in bands since the age of 16 and from school moving to London to study Illustration at Central St Martins and immersing herself into the local music scene. The EP is an impressive and potent marker of her songwriting, talent, and intent, and one suspects just the appetizer to many triumphs ahead from and for her and the band.
These Streets was recorded at Ash Gardner’s House of Strange studio in Limehouse last November, with Buchanan providing the vocals and rhythms guitar to her songs with guest guitarist Katherine Blamire of the Smoke Fairies featuring on some of the release as well as further guitar parts added by Duncan Brown. Ed Seed provided drums, bass and other instruments to complete the line-up as well as co-producing the EP with Gardner too. Since the recording the band has settled into a quartet of Buchanan and Brown with bassist Grundy le Zimbra and drummer Scott Skinner for live shows with already successful small gigs priming the band up for the EP release show at the Sebright Arms, London on 5th June.
Released via Thumbscrew Music, the EP opens with the title track, the song emerging from the silence with an eager stroll which immediately reminds one of Echo and The Bunnymen with the guitars buoyantly lighting up the air. In full view the song rests back with teasing melodic suasion as the vocals of Buchanan take centre stage. Her voice initially takes you by surprise, like an unexpected blast of cold catches your breath when wrapped in pure warmth, but rather than pull away you find yourself lost in her startling and rich dark toned seduction. Thoughts of Julie Driscoll come to mind right away and instantly grip the ear though as the songs unfold there is a more distinctive presence to the voice of Buchanan which is unique and magnetic. The song builds up around her delivery with a hypnotic pulse from the bass and niggling guitar strokes before widening into an infectious saunter. With a vibrant sixties psychedelic whisper to the melodic almost punk like sinews of the song sculpted with the angular guitar movements, there is a set in contagion which equally smoulders before and leaps at the listener in what is a stunning introduction to EP and band.
The following Pick Me Up stands before the ear with a vibrant bass pulse and bright keys flitting around the vocals of Buchanan, the reserved start just biding its time to seize the moment to dance upon the senses. A switching slow and energetic gait alongside the persistently melodically enticement flavours further a song which is a mix of folk pop and psyche rock, the resulting brew leading to a wonderful cacophonous finale which is mouth-watering and thrilling.
The final two songs In Your Eyes and I See No Lies are sisters from different shadows, the pair sharing a chorus and emotive breath but in different guises. Neither a part 1 and 2 type thing nor opposites as in black and white, the songs hold a union which is open yet parallel rather than touching. The first of the two is voice and guitar on a tender emotive embrace which caresses thoughts and emotions into their own memory or song whilst the second is a scintillating again psychedelic spiced temptress which is as haunting as its predecessor but washed in a golden melodic sunset wrapped by the absorbing and resonating rhythmic web.
It is a stunning conclusion to an equally immense release which is set to make The Graphite Set and Lily Buchanan names rife on the lips of the many.
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