Here at perpetually-lazy DIY label Broken Tail Records, we don't get out of bed and release records for just anyone. We do, however, get out of bed for Quiet Quiet Band.
Originally the solo project of Paul Smith, he of Reading's rock never-rans Heartwear Process, Quiet Quiet Band grew from an initial idea of basic solo home recordings of whisper-quiet songs with a revolving roster of backing musicians into an intense six-piece collective, of which 'Flatlands' is the first true taster. We're not quite sure exactly how it evolved in such a way, and we're not sure that Smith is either, but after roping in a couple of previous bandmates, some work colleagues and a former death metal bassist, the QQB project was eventually transformed from a collection of hissing tape demos to rousing folk songs.
In advance of a debut album due out at the tail end of 2012, this initial recording of 'Flatlands' is a step away from the Bad Seeds influence of their previous incarnations, drawing strengths instead from the likes of 16 Horsepower, Sparklehorse and Robert Wyatt amongst others. It goes beyond that though: three and four part harmonies come as standard, occasionally breaking down into something more chaotic, or perhaps a slew of ever-building choruses peaking into some intense viola wig-out.
If that's not the first time you've read the phrase “viola wig-out” this week, the music world is in trouble.
But this isn't the am-dram, bright-eyed epic pop of Arcade Fire, and it packs more punch (for us) than the likes of Fleet Foxes. This sound has probably seen too many Irish drinking songs, or harks to the blues-folk storytelling drama of Johnny Flynn's circa 2008, and maybe the broken, ill-intentioned parts of every great Modest Mouse song more than it does to any of the other folk collectives of recent years, and whilst 'Flatlands' is probably the most morally-peaceful offering possible for a band whose love songs normally consist of someone's demise, even that's promptly followed by a lounging tale of icy death (see b-side 'Fingers').
With a powerful live show honed over the past couple of years including recent supports to Young Knives and Emmy the Great, QQB are armed well for 2012. Expect murder ballads.
Praise for Quiet Quiet Band:
“.. utterly piss on any supposed competition.. [a] frenzied blend of modern folk that you wouldn’t bet against in a punch-up with the blackest of Swedish death metal bands”
“powerful, neatly constructed harmonies and sassy country-folk.. Are they quiet? Absolutely not. Do your ears need to be exposed to them immediately? Definitely.”
- Reading Chronicle