This eponymous EP from Stay On The Bike isn't released until tomorrow, and until then all I've got to go on are the two tracks that made their way into my inbox; the opening and closing tracks *Left** and Build. A definite degree of luck went into getting this record on my to-blog-about list, as the first few seconds of Left are dominated by the kind of pub-rock guitar lines that instantly scream “skip!” when I'm trawling through my emails. Mercifully the band had sent two songs, so what I skipped onto was the closer Build, and there's nothing at all in that track that would make me want to skip it. In fact, I played it several times in quick succession and then went back and gave *Left* a second chance.
It turns out the cringe-worthy guitar was just a momentary blip in an otherwise sterling pair of songs. The aesthetic at work here is one almost tailor-made to appeal to me. Gentle acoustics nestle in next to subtle percussion that never dominates but is jagged enough to steer well clear of the generic 'acoustic' mush that so often blights records in this vein. There's also some very nice string playing, and the whole thing sits on a discreet bed of swirling electronic trickery that, much like the percussion, never intrudes too far but which is just complex enough to add an extra level of interest and depth. Vocally, the joint efforts of multi-instrumentalist Matt Grajcar and his creative partner Annah Sprague fuse really well together, with shades of the more intellectual side of Americana and a more folksy tradition.
Of the two tracks featured here I prefer Build, but both are excellent (and it's always nice to hear a song in 7/8 time that still has a solid groove). Sadly the exceedingly limited run of hand-printed CD packages have already sold out, but the digital version will be available to buy from tomorrow. If the rest of the record is as good as these two tracks then we could all be in for a real treat.