There’s nothing Gourmet Gigs likes more than a combination of music accompanied by interesting culinary or alcoholic refreshment.
Last Tuesday offered such an occasion, with the added mystery of a location in the heart of an industrial estate in Walthamstow. Just to rewind: The End festival in Crouch End two weeks previously had featured a band called Firestations, who caught the attention of a few us. So we were particularly excited to discover their debut album was only a tantalising week away, at Wild Card Brewery, located at the aforementioned estate.
The venue, once we found it, is a welcoming and cosy space among the brewing apparatus, with a tiny bar serving Wild Card Brewery’s various craft ales. It was heartening to see the place packed out, especially at such an important moment for a new band. As for the beers, they were all perfect for winter, very full of flavour and warming. After a pint of the palest, King of Hearts, I moved onto the darkest which has a delicious mellow and smoky flavour. Another visit is needed to do justice to the range.
Firestations describe themselves as ‘dream pop’ and the label is somewhat accurate but there’s more to them than that. The five-piece open the launch of album Never Closer with the first track French Caves which encapsulates their sound, it’s somewhat euphoric and dreamy, but underpinned by a driving beat which powers the song along. The layers rise and fall, sometimes the vocals coming to the fore, other times the guitar. The band drift from an electronic feel to that of a more traditional guitar band, as on Cold Sweaty Palms, sometimes seamlessly blending the two. Laura Copsey’s flugelhorn adds an interesting depth to the overall sound. The band introduce folky touches here and there too.
The vocals of Michael Cranny are somewhat subdued, blending with the instrumentation, and allowing it to be more prominent. The title track, Never Closer, has a Belle & Sebastian feel with the wistful harmonies of Laura and Michael leading the song.
Firestations seemed delighted with the turnout, and the brewery played host to a very friendly and supportive crowd.
Listening to the album is proving to be a rewarding experience. Molten Nothing Now develops satisfyingly, it’s a dreamy, hypnotic number sliding into a glorious multi-layered vocal finale; the last track, Alma, is a beauty: deceptively gentle at first but gradually pulling you in, as it moves into full hypnotic mode a with a kind of mash up of what reminds me of late 60s Beatles-influenced loops. Is that maybe I am the Walrus among there somewhere?
Album Never Closer is available now.
THE SMALL PRINT
WHO: Firestations plus support
WHEN: December 4, 2014
WHERE: Wild Card Brewery, Ravenswood Industrial estate, Walthamstow E17