The beginning of the year saw British singer songwriter/guitarist, Gavin Chappell-Bates unveil the video for new track Refugees. It was an ear catching offering also providing a teaser for the Cambridge musician’s forthcoming debut album. Now the release of We Are The Ones is upon us and fair to say if that earlier proposition spiced up the tastes buds there is plenty more highly flavoursome goodness to be found and feasted upon in the thoroughly enjoyable album.
The musical desire and devotion of Chappell-Bates is said to go back to the age of eleven and being inspired by Sgt. Pepper, an ‘awakening’ backed by “ his musical friends and a few early lessons by Ezio’s Booga.” Learning his craft playing in various local bands which included Bokaata, The Deadlines, We Are Godzilla, and Up & Atom , Chappell-Bates decided to pursue a solo career in 2014, drawing on influences listed as The Beatles, Feeder, Aerosmith, Buddy Holly, The Bee Gees, Smashing Pumpkins, Our Lady Peace, and majorly Manic Street Preachers for his own creative adventures. The following year saw first EP, Black Holes released. Its attention provoking presence was followed by the singles 95 and We Are The Ones, each luring more eager ears the way of his emergence. Equally live he has been sparking strong praise and support around the UK, playing venues such as Bury St. Edmunds’ The Hunter Club, The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, and in London the likes of Hoxton Bar and Sebright Arms.
Already earning strong radios play on BBC Introducing, BBC 6 Music, and XFM among many others and being was nominated for Best Male Solo Artist in the 2015 NMG Awards, Chappell-Bates is looking to now spark national awareness, something We Are The Ones certainly has the potential to give a potent nudge to. Produced by James Coppolaro, who with drummer Rob Gibiaqui (Sergey Lazarev, The Pinker Tones) plays alongside Chappell-Bates on the release, the album swiftly has ears keenly attentive with opener Church Of Rock ‘N’ Roll. A rousing and contagious slice of sound boisterously living up to its title, the song springs punk riffs and spicy hooks on ears as Chappell-Bates’ vocals lead its lively anthemic pull. It is a punchy and infectious start setting up an eagerness to hear more which the following All Ways more than satisfies.
The second song equally has an infectious swing to its presence whilst pursuing a more melodic/alternative rock imagination in its energetic persuasion. As with many songs there is a familiarity to the sound and nature of the song but equally a fresh essence that highlights Chappell-Bates’ own invention, the following 95 another example. It carries an air of the decade of rock spawning its title yet casts a vibrant pop ‘n’ roll flavouring which has the catchiness of modern rock pop flirtation. Its pleasing presence is matched in success by Refugee next, its initial gentle melodic caress growing in weight and intensity as keys shimmer in the background. Soon that brewing intent erupts in a fiery crescendo and chorus before repeating the cycle to engaging effect with Chappell-Bates’ vocals again a potent hue to his songwriting and its colourful realisation. A more subtle but increasingly provocative texture is provided by guest violinist Prue Ward and cellist Anna Scott, their evocative and here melancholic imagination a great spicing colouring a handful of tracks hereon in.
The album’s title track is another; its melodically reflective balladry evolving into a warm and inescapably catchy rock pop canter framed and steered by a robust and tenacious web of beats before making way for the acoustic tempting of Writing In The Sand and in turn the delicious spirit sparking incitement of Black Holes. The first of the songs has a sunny air to its infectious gait and a smouldering intimacy to its vocal and lyrical embrace whilst the second immediately has ears and imagination gripped with its opening throaty bassline and subsequent tone. A Nirvana-esque feel coats the beginning of the song whilst its emerging virulent stroll lies somewhere between Weezer and The Presidents of the United States of America, all essences combining to colour an encounter whipping hips and voice into eager involvement as it takes favourite song accolades on the album.
Dead End Disco Streets brings a great electronic spicing to its magnetic and physically buoyant temptation, indie and electro pop flavours uniting to embrace and dance with the equally spirited vocals before Follow The Light unveils its own animated serenade which dances with ears rather than laying sentimentally upon them though it is certainly emotively shaped and fuelled. As if any more proof was needed, the song is further evidence that Chappell-Bates knows how to write pop and rock songs which simply stir attention, proof swiftly backed by The Finest Hour and its Big Country like landscape of melodic and folkish hues.
The album concludes with firstly Last Angel, an emotionally intense country spiced ballad featuring the guest vocals of Kathryn James and keys of Jamie Brooks, and finally the acoustic/folk pop sparkle of Starlight. Both songs have brightness to their sentiment loaded proposals, especially the last which with a hug of strings is edgy and provocative as the best pop ballads always are.
Certainly some songs ignited more lusty reactions than others, but from its first note to last syllable, We Are The Ones is a proposition that can only be enjoyed from an artist with the potential to made big strides in the UK rock/pop scene.
We Are The Ones is released April 8th through R*E*P*E*A*T Records and @ https://gavinchappellbates.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-the-ones
Pete RingMaster 07/04/2016
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