The Eastern Swell

The Eastern Swell 2018THE EASTERN SWELL are:

The Eastern Swell are an electric folk outfit, signed to Edinburgh’s Stereogram Recordings. Their debut album ‘One Day, A Flood’ was recorded with Pete Harvey (Modern Studies, Meursault, King Creosote) and was met with widespread critical acclaim. Described by The Scotsman as “blissful, burnished reveries…a pleasing patchouli oil-scented blend of prog rock, pastoral folk and psych soul”, the album was listed in a number of ‘best of the year’ album reviews. Louder Than War called it “A rather magical album, and definitely one of the finest releases of 2016”. The band’s second album ‘Hand Rolled Halo’ is due for release on 15 November 2018.

On this sophomore release, the band have again gathered up an armful of ripe musical influences. Elements include experimental rock and British folk, Robert Kirby-esque string arrangements and trumpet blasts reminiscent of Beirut’s Gulag Orkestar.

Written by guitarist Chris Reeve and sung by Lainie Urquhart, the songs often explore the fragmented, half-formed memories that drift into our thoughts, leaving glimpses of things otherwise forgotten.

As with their first album, the band worked with cellist Pete Harvey (Modern Studies, King Creosote, The Leg) at his Pumpkinfield Studios in rural Perthshire. Expanding on their sonic palette, they also brought in long-time friend and trumpet player Al Hamilton. The resulting horn and string arrangements add a folk orchestration, recalling elements of Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.

In the opening track, Miles from Home, the song’s narrator dissects fragments of past images blurred by the ‘roll and tumble of time’ and unable to be pieced back together. With changes in time-signature and chord sequence calling to mind aspects of Ryley Walker’s Deafman Glance, after twists and turns driven by Andy Glover’s deft drumming and Neil Collman’s melodic bass runs, the song breaks into a groove of horn stabs and shimmering guitar set against a brooding vocal mantra.

Evidencing the band’s playful relationship between British and American folk traditions, Chris Reeve’s arrangement of Blackwaterside wouldn’t sound out of place on Neil Young’s Zuma, with Lainie Urquhart’s vocals striking somewhere between Sandy Denny and Linda Thompson. The song’s tale is reimagined though for modern times; with the girl standing up to her predatory suitor rather than pining to become his bride. Playing with the concept of memory and imagination, on a later track of the album, Down Again, lush with layers of cello, the setting of Blackwaterside is revisited. This time the romantic liaison is sweetly satisfying.

Folk stylings are evident again on Spindrift, bookended by teetering, sparse guitar lines bringing to mind something of Tom Wait’s Jockey Full Of Bourbon. The song’s swirling melody, underpinned by brooding cello, mirrors the theme of love and loss.

Zeitgeist, marking an altogether more upfront turn, centres on an ironic bebop groove with wailing wah-wah trumpet and gypsy-jazz strings. With a wry smile, the lyrics question our often hapless attempts to navigate the world of fake news and pseudo science.

Nearing the close of the album, The Scene is more introverted affair – a paean to young love and the sometimes painful fragility that comes with giving yourself completely to another person. As the song builds to a repeated mantra, cascading trumpet and unsettling electronica lead to a psych guitar hook and a snare drum that bring things back from the edge.

Press quotes:

“The Eastern Swell have spawned a truly extraordinary assemblage of songs here” – Pure M Magazine
“Aural treats abound.”- When You Motor Away
“If you choose to listen all the way through you’ll be repaid, and handsomely. Every moment counts with The Eastern Swell.” – 4.5 / 5 – IsThisMusic?
“A rather magical album, and definitely one of the finest releases of 2016, so far.” – 9 / 10 -Louder Than War
“This Anglo/Scottish group cook up a pleasing patchouli oil scented blend of prog rock, pastoral folk and psyche soul.” – 4 / 5 – The Scotsman
“Fragile vocals sounding exquisite.” – For Malcontents Only
“Potential definitely fulfilled.” –
“If one word had to be used to describe One Day, A Flood, the debut album from Scottish quartet The Eastern Swell, it has to be spellbinding.” – The Ringmaster Review
“The songs were like stories, not just lyrically but musically, taking you to wonderful places and then moving you along to another wonderful place.” 7aheadmusic.
“Off to an auspicious start, and with such a broad musical range to draw from, a debut album is an enticing prospect indeed.”
“Laced with country-tinged harmonies, rockabilly twangs, sweet Appalachian blues and the occasional laid-back heartbreaker” The Skinny