Alternative music reviews

December 24, 2007

The Winchell Riots

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My first visit to The Wheatsheaf in Oxford was for The Winchell Riots and it even included a free CD – the first release by The Winchells and two tracks from their friends The Half Rabbits. All of this for a fiver, as well.

I went through a conversion experience with the opening act Alice {musics}. My first reaction on hearing her was to stay near the bar but I decided to get full value for my £5 entrance fee and went to watch. After about 15 minutes I suddenly realised that she wasn’t annoying and that the keyboard work had a little touch of Phillip Glass. I’ve since listened to her CD and I’ve become quite keen on the songs. It is a very quirky approach to music she exhibits, spinning breathy melodies over intricate keyboard patterns.

The Half Rabbits are an Oxford band I know from an earlier EP Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds and I liked that a lot. I’m glad to report that they did sound very good. The problem for me was I got completely distracted by the singer Michael’s eyes. Rather than wondering whether they were brown or blue, I just noticed that he never looked at the audience for longer than a nanosecond. He looked over the amps, he looked down at his guitar, his eyes flitted nervously from monitor to spotlight. In the end I just felt that the performance was poor and that the band didn’t project themselves to the audience. I’m sure the bloke I got chatting to afterwards would disagree – he had come over from London to see the Winchells and was so impressed by The Half Rabbits tonight he had bought both their EPs.

Finally I was about to see The Winchell Riots in all of their glory. As soon as they come on stage, I can feel the love between band and audience. In fact I can share it, because I also have come to feel relaxed in Phil McMinns company in just the half hour I spent with him and the other Phil at an acoustic set a few weeks ago. The reason for this love is the delicious vocals, the intelligence and vulnerability in the lyrics, and the lush textures of the music. Music to swoon to.

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