Two young and hungry bands, and when I say young I mean nowhere near my age, so that can be up to the early thirties. When I say hungry I mean that they’re both eager and willing to play gigs in smelly little dives and to haul their own battered amps and gear around and to play at the bottom of the bill where the headliner is unknown to 99.5 percent of the public and to feel excited about the future and believe in themselves like older bands once did before it all became a chore. This little record is held now in my hand and it’s beautiful, you should know that, it’s important, because a LOT of care and attention has gone into it and it deserves your time.
Sky:Lark! are a three piece and the first track, which is ‘Broken Feet’, simply rocks. It rocks in an off-kilter way, which is even better. I’ve seen some descriptions of their sound online and Fugazi are always mentioned, and I can hear this to be true, but also it’s not true because Sky:Lark! aren’t as clipped or as serious as Fugazi. They’re messier too. Also the vocals are nothing like Fugazi vocals, they’re more screamy and hoarse and all over the place, which is very good indeed, in fact it’s a recommendation. The guitars sound like the duelling coiling experimental guitar sound of the aforementioned hardcore legends, who I shall not mention again, and that is where the majority of the comparison is coming from I believe. ‘How Many More Times?’ continues the wonderfully inventive use of guitar strings and jerks around like a wanking chimp. The third track, ‘Centurion Beast’, on the Sky:Lark! side, which says Sky:Lark! on the centre label, is also very good indeed, particularly if you like lots of noisy bands that have emerged from the States in the wake of the Washington DC band who I have sworn not to mention again. Sterling stuff – solid, effervescent, physical yet cerebral.
Meadows are a lovable bunch of exceedingly good eggs who would certainly be on the gifted and talented list in any secondary school. They’re not that young though, as in teenage, and it’s obvious from these two tracks on their side that they have spent many studied hours listening intently to all kinds of music, which has been sucked up by their creative brains, filtered through their beards and into their own unique take on noise that lives in their heads and carefully spat out in the form of some of the most exciting ‘rock’ that I’ve personally heard from an English band in the 21st century.
As you may know, I have had ‘dealings’ with these Suffolk-bred renaissance types before, and I proudly hold up the split 12” they did with Slabdragger (whose main man, Sam Thredder, recorded and mastered their side at his Cro’s Nest studio in Croydon) on Crom, as a fucking triumph of sonic quality. The quality here does not diminish one jot though, and both ‘Super Thunder Blade’ and ‘I Am Stone Head’ encapsulate the mightily attractive Meadows sound, which is hyperactive guitar fuckery squeezed into tempo-undulating hardcore punk bluster that owes much more to math rock and left-field experimental stuff than it appears to owe to stoner rock bands, whom they sometimes get lazily described as being like.
I always love their vocals too, most of which are handled by the bassist George, because they sound so gritty and raw and strangely yearning and yet manage to sound weirdly tuneful too, in a non-tuneful way. In fact they’re aren’t like anybody really, they just sound like Meadows, which is why I loved their noise the first time I heard their debut extended play a few years back. Please please record your full length album Meadows, before you pack it in and call it a day (please don’t do that though, even though your members are often busy in other bands too). Leave the world with a record of your odd-genius and your unique take on stoner rock that doesn’t sound like stoner rock at all. Anyway, both tracks are immense and show just what Meadows could do if given the time (and the money).
With excellent cover art by Ellie May Roberts and put out by the scene stalwart and champion of underground high quality that is Mister Kunal Nandi on SuperFi Records, this split seven incher hides twelve and a half minutes of music that is worthy of anyone’s ears, and is a great package to have and to hold. Furthermore, it stands testament that UK talent is stronger than ever and worthy of a bloody good documentary like they used to do in the eighties and early nineties before the internet atomised society the way it has. Ten out of ten everybody and thumbs aloft.
Scribed by: Adam Stone