Alternative music reviews

February 26, 2008

Strings

Filed under: ramblings — @ 12:49 am Comments (0)

I am not a fan of massed “strings” in rock music but I do love the use of a violin, viola, or cello. This stretches back to first hearing the Velvet Underground and Mr John Cale, and numerous other bands since. There are many ways to use bowed instruments – from the drone of Tony Conrad to a melodic foil to the vocals. But my favourite use of a stringed instrument is when it maintains some of the harshness of a bow scraping against the strings and uses the dynamic range. There are two particularly fine examples of this virtuosity on the Oxford scene at the moment.

The Cogwheel Dogs are a duo consisting of Rebecca Mosley on guitar and vocals and Tom Parnell on Cello. Originally gigging under Rebecca’s name, you can hear from the interplay between the Cello and the vocals why they are now presenting themselves as a band. The Cello adds a certain radicalism to the music to take it into ‘left field’ and away from any folk roots that may have been showing. Intense and interesting are two words that spring to mind.

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Cress (clip)

Joe Allen is a young singer-songwriter at Oxford Brooks University who has teamed up with Angharad Jenkins on violin. He has a penchant for melancholic songs and a very fine voice. The violin adds Pathos to the songs that would just be strummed and sung otherwise. My heartstrings are tugged enough by his delivery but when you add the emotional intensity of the violin to the music, I just gasp in admiration.

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Chase (clip)

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