Debut EP from West London riffsmiths showcases their indie blues skills to the Nth degree
The Chairs are progressive. Their live shows ooze it and debut EP rams it down your throat. While the riffs aren’t as psychotic as on previous releases, there is an overriding vibe that pervades their music. It’s the sound of four young men, who are passionate about music, extremely proficient at playing and don’t want to take the easy route. Their music is rooted in the blues, their time signatures aren’t. Jazz and prog influences pepper their sets. Coming from Ealing, the spiritual home of contemporary music, and being influenced by bands such as Radiohead and the Mars Volta isn’t a bad thing either.
The Opening track on The Chairs EP Long Live the King is a pretty acoustic number, think Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas soundtrack and you’re close, which declares that “the blues is the most important music on the planet”. After this opening sojourn the EP gets going in earnest. Bluesy Song does what it says on the tin. Its infectious riff is everything we’ve come to expect from lead guitarist Russell Newman’s playing. In Martin Bonner The Chairs not only have a charismatic frontman, but the kind of voice that sounds like he’s spent his life gargling gravel, eating lit cigarettes an washing it all down with cheap whiskey. On Bluesy Song he not only shows us what he can do, but gives his voice a decent work out. Hands and Knees follows on in the same vein, but the guitars are crunchier and sound larger than life. Pendulum is an optimistic jaunt about the power of positive thinking. As Bonner sings “One of these days it’s gonna swing back my way” you generally believe him and want things to get better. However said blues is depressing needs to hear this. Black and White has an indie disco vibe to it. Krys Szymanski’s hypnotic drumming is the real star of the show. If Black and White was all about Szymanski, Pure Sleeze all about Michael McLoughlin’s pulsating bass work. On the first listen you don’t realise his importance in the back, but after a few successive playbacks you are drawn to it.
Ultimately The Chairs EP is a perfectly captures their incendiary live shows, but not at the expense of their deft interplay and musical vision. Lyrically The Chairs EP is all about life, love, the universe and everything. In a way you feel sorry for Bonner and co as relationship problems pepper each song, and you want them to be happy, but would they write as emotive songs though? One of the downsides is that you don’t really witness the power and range of Bonner’s voice or the virtuosity nature of Newman’s playing. Also the prog elements have been toned down for more standard composition and production. Debut single What’s the Sound? sounded like the Mars Volta covering the Rolling Stones classic Paint it Black, a couple of tracks like that wouldn’t have gone a miss. However The Chairs EP is everything that we’ve come to expect from West London’s best hidden secret. Let’s hope a follow up isn’t too long in the offing.