I’ve reviewed music and gigs and, in the deep, dark past, TV shows and films, but this one is a first for me. I’ve been given the opportunity to review an EP with some new music before its release date. So here goes…
How Animal Are You? is a six-track EP from Warrington rock band Slydigs. It is due to be released on Friday 12 May 2017, although the title track was released as a single on 7 April.
Some background may be in order…
Slydigs are Dean Fairhurst (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Louis Menguy (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals), Peter Fleming (Percussion) and Ben Breslin (Bass/Backing Vocals). They are friends that have known each other since school and as such they would often have a sly dig at each other. After one of their number (they didn’t say which) declared, quite seriously, “I’m sick of sly digs!”, they evidently decided that the most sly dig of all was to adopt that as the band name.
Starting out they were bad. They were Bill and Ted Wyld Stallyns bad. Then after a while they got fed-up with messing around and started to take the band seriously, until, and just like the Wyld Stallyns in the end, they become “excellent”.
A couple of years and member changes later, the band’s ability and reputation was such that, in late 2014, they were chosen to support legendary rock band The Who, for three UK dates, in Manchester and London, during their 50th Anniversary tour.
Their 2015 song, Light The Fuse, was selected for use on the music video game, Rock Band 4.
Slydigs then toured twice supporting irrepressible soul, rhythm and blues band, Vintage Trouble (who have acquired quite the reputation for live music themselves), across the UK and Europe, before being invited to re-join The Who as support for the North American leg of their tour, in 2016. This was still part of the 50th Anniversary Tour that they had performed on in the UK, but had been delayed due to Roger Daltrey being ill.
This brings us to the here and now and The How Animal Are You? EP. Its release will coincide with a UK and European headline tour starting in Manchester, in May 2017.
How Animal Are You? (3.27)
The Truth Will Be Found (2.57)
Give It Up Brother (2.51)
To Catch A Fading Light (2.56)*
Suburban Confinement (3.47)
The Kids Feel Underrated (4.16)*
*Features Paul Glover on keyboards
1. How Animal Are You?
“I keep looking, I keep looking, looking for the soul behind those eyes…”
Solid, catchy, foot tapping, head banging, rocking song which will go down a storm live. I don’t need to add to that. In fact, you don’t have to take my word for it at all – because the song and video are already out.
The video is perfect for the song & the band. The screen cuts demonstrate what each member brings & when they bring it (such as Dean and his fangs – they’re not the only ones who like sly digs ;P ). Excellent work!
2. The Truth Will Be Found
“One of these days, it’s gonna come around”
This one is a tad slower than the title track and a little more thought-provoking. For me the music and lyric combination conjures up images of a guy in a stetson, carrying a double-barrelled shotgun, as he heads out onto a dusty American highway to take revenge on some low-down, dirty varmint.
It definitely has an American feel to it and I reckon that if you didn’t know where these guys were from, and you heard this first, you might think they were a US band.
It is performed with aplomb and is a solid track . It maybe more one for gently nodding along or foot-tapping to but it is a good one.
3. Give It Up Brother
“You know her hair late at night looks like a red sunrise…”
Another up-beat rock song that is a cautionary tale about a failed relationship with a red-headed woman. Now I’ve been there, done that, so I seriously empathised with this one. I hear you, brother!
It’s another short song but I can see the band possibly playing around with this one live (with some audience participation) and making it last longer.
4. To Catch A Fading Light
“Forever chasing who we used to be…”
This is a slow track that the band have been playing live for a while. They have also performed ‘unplugged’ acoustic versions of it during interviews. It’s a really nice, if slightly sad, song, so have your lighters or your device torches ready for when it comes on.
5. Suburban Confinement
“Ain’t it hard to be confined when you’re living in a one horse town…”
This one returns us to the American feel of The Truth Will Be Found. The “one horse town” lyric also helps to evoke that.
I can’t help but think of Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory, and (band) Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive – but this is a rockier track than both of those and the similarity is more in passing rather than clear or distinct.
The song lyric is probably more reflective of the band’s early days together and their documented desire to get out of doing the dead-end jobs that were all that were open to them. They are all from the Warrington area, “…the industrial wastelands that exist between the cities of Manchester & Liverpool. For them, forming a rock n roll band was the perfect way to express their shared obsession with music and escape their pre ordained futures in the factories and building sites of the Northwest suburbs.”
As with, The Truth Will Be Found, this one is a solid track that adds to the band’s repertoire.
6. The Kids Feel Underrated
“I’ve been looking for redemption, the devil’s henchmen are at the door…”
Another slower song, and another with thought-provoking lyrics, that refers to people who, “work for a nation run by thieves and fools”.
It seems to be a song of youth, frustrated at their lot, being pigeon-holed, kept down and forced to do things that are, “not what I wanted” and being “underrated, aggravated by a life they lead”.
Musically, the song is on a par with the rest although it is probably the one that sounds the most like a song from the north west of England (little echoes of Oasis here and there).
Lyrically, whilst the meaning is there, the chorus is clunky, with rhyming words like solution and pollution, underrated and aggravated and rainbows with plain clothes. It’s not a catchy chorus that lends itself to being sung along to by an audience.
This song would appeal primarily to the frustrated youth that it refers to, whilst the rest of the audience would nod their heads to it, appreciative of the message being conveyed, but perhaps without being too drawn in by it, or to it.
I like it. I think there are two really good songs, three that are pretty good and one that isn’t bad, but doesn’t quite match the standard of the rest.
I find the choice of having The Kids Feel Underrated on the EP a little strange, when there is another track that could have been chosen that I think is a better song – and would sit comfortably in that track six slot.
The song that didn’t make the cut for the EP is called Railway Road. You can obtain it for free, via a download, which you get the link for when you join the Slydigs mailing list.
I imagine there are reasons for the choice made, but it is my view that the EP would have been better swapping those two songs. That said, a second EP is expected to be released in the summer sometime, so perhaps Railway Road will be on there instead.
“For anyone who’s seen our fantastic support band Slydigs, they’ll understand why they have their own headline shows coming up” – The Who
I’ve seen Slydigs live a few times now, including twice with Vintage Trouble and either side of that North American tour with The Who.
In that time I’ve seen them improve from being a strong support band, for bands with legendary live shows of their own, to a band that can headline.
After Manchester, they will be playing in York, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Warrington, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Camden, Guildford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge before heading across to continental Europe for gigs in The Netherlands, Belgium and France.
If you like rock music, or live music generally, I do recommend going to see them on tour. You will thank me for it.
Here’s a final taster of what you can expect: Slydigs – Light The Fuse.