[This is part 2 of the review, please check part 1 if you care about such things]
Well first can I say that the sound was terrible. It was impossible to hear either band properly. This possibly came from laziness on the part of the engineer. Mother Black Cap seemed, from what I could tell to be guitar led whereas the dukes were supposed to be vocalist led. I think that the engineer just decided to put everything on the same and loud and hope for the best. My mate Adrian could have done better but then he was a sound engineer.
Mother Black Cap
I’m not sure about the lead singer. There I’ve said it. His name is Glam, and on this gig Glam was looking decidedly less glam than when I’d last seen him. Although he did still have that stocking glove on so I suppose I can’t complain too much. It was odd though because it does look like he’s on a progression away from glam towards being a west coast surfer / new york geek rocker. And that’s fine, he can look any way he pleases.
Although I did get a sense of a little Fountains of Wayne in one of the new songs so perhaps it is a genuine musical shift to match? I thought, at first that it might be the sound problems. His mike might have been a bit high for him. But I went back and listened to the tracks on their myspace page* (which is not very easy to read in FireFox but I’m sure most of the media world don’t use the cool browser so it shouldn’t be a problem for them in getting signed) and I found that you can hear that weakness in his voice on the tracks there as well. It’s not fatal for him. He may need some more practice or crucially he may find himself more comfortable at singing a different kind of song.
On the subject of material I did actually quite like it. Quite a few songs you felt you knew where you were going even though the song was quite unfamiliar.
There is an sense of the grand about their style, especially in their finalé “The Dark One” (a part of which is included at the end of this section). It hinted at the overblown quality of Muse or Smashing Pumpkins. Perhaps the kind of fancy producer you need to get that sound would be able to correctly bury the lead singer’s voice in the mix?
I’m sure I’m being too harsh. The songs were really interesting and the band seemed pretty tight although not as tight as the Dukes. But in the final analysis if it was between them and The Dukes, I’d pick Mother Black Cap every time.
Rick Witter and The Dukes
The Dukes kicked off with their current single the raw, “The Year of the Rat” and it was exactly at this moment that I thought the night took a turn for the worse. The sound was pretty awful, and although I could make out the tune I remembered from theirspace it didn’t sound right. Rick was lost completely in the mix and was almost having to shout to overcompensate. The quieter songs were easier to listen to and I preferred them mainly because I could work out what was going on between the different instruments. But that’s hardly their fault.
What can be laid at them is that the Dukes don’t seem to have exactly settled on what you could refer to as a style. There seems to be about three different song writers I could identify. My personal favourite was what I imagine to be the style of Rob Wilson mainly because it had a bit of a guitar solo in it. They did grow on me as time went on, but somehow I didn’t quite connect.
I do think they did fare worse under the sound engineer than Mother Black Cap did, and listening to their studio offerings does make their sound make more sense… and yet I still don’t feel convinced by them as a band, and because of the inconsistency of the style I’m not sure they are either. I’m not sure they’ll exist a year from now.
*I wanted to say theirspace. Do you think that would have worked?