Alternative music reviews

October 24, 2005

Progress On Paper by Stick Finlays

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Stick Finlays are a young Scottish three-piece that plays Mudhoney styled “grunge” rock, with moments that could pass for early Placebo era. I use the word grunge loosely as the eight songs on ‘Progress On Paper’ has little in common with Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. More contemporary acts spring to the forefront of my mind, At The Drive-In and My Vitriol, retaining their hunger for snarling vocals and crackling surges of distortion – this is an exciting band to listen to. The small town atmosphere of hometown Jedburgh on the Scottish borders is apparent in the determination within the songs. When a band goes through struggles it makes the music feel more honest – so many bands lack passion which cannot be directed at the Stick Finlays.

The stand-out track is ‘Return To Zero’ which intentionally or not nabs The Smashing Pumpkin’s chorus to ‘Quiet’ and turns it into a revitalized rock song. Maybe the nod to the Pumpkin’s track ‘Zero’ in ‘Return To Zero’ is the blatant clue. Even ‘Cultural Vandal’ reminds me of The Pumpkin’s ‘Bodies’ carried by its descending riff and full throttle guitars. Difficult to separate the band’s influences at an early stage in their career, I’m sure the Stick Finlays will find their own identity in the near future, as this band show so much promise. Vocalist Tommy Hunter has a voice that suits this type of music – gritty post-grunge that doesn’t show his accent, you could mistake them for an American band. The production is also well-handled, Funeral For A Friend producer Joe Gibb managing to record a raw sound without unnecessary gloss which taints so many modern rock records. The combination of an aggressive rhythm section, uneasy guitar tones and anxiety-ridden lyrics makes this a welcome shot in the arm for Scottish rock music.

Review by Nick Collings

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