The opening guitar hook of ‘Tricks’ is a gravel packed overture that bridges the present day with Delta Blues through 70s pub rock. The riff is the glint of a flick knife in the dark before the drums and bass explode and we get the superb opening lines “The little details and the sleight of hand, the grand illusion and the marching band”. Eight Rounds Rapid are David Alexander, vocals, Jules Cooper, bass and Lee Watkins, drums and Simon Johnson, guitar. And if you know your ‘She Does It Right’ from your ‘Roxette’ you will recognise the bruiser staccato playing of Simon Johnson as he is the son of Wilko; death-defying guitarist and GoT’s royal executioner.
But a band is not a guitar riff alone and ‘Tricks’ is a full-throttle sandpaper helter-skelter of solid 4×4 drums, rhino charging bass licks, screaming harmonica and the Estuary twang which colours David Alexander’s intelligent quatrains. The use of language and rhyme makes this song for me, this is no simple ‘My baby done me wrong’ take on blues but a compelling clash between the raw energy of the music and the refinement of such fantastic language (“the minor movements and the small degrees, primary numbers and the minor keys”, rhyming ‘masterplan’ and ‘élan’). The voice is also allowed to shine through the mix and not get buried in the grit of the instruments.
There’s rarely anything new under the sun but how you rearrange the DNA of the past is the key. Eight Rounds Rapid have taken their lineage and expertly spliced the modern into their own take on the pub-rock genetic code. As a herald for the forthcoming album Love Your Work (released on 21 August through German indie label Tapete Records) this bodes well for a full on souped-up Bedford Van full of tracks and I can’t wait.
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Review by Paul F Cook