Tuesday, 23 December 2008

CD Review: New English Social

Review by Danny Hill

New English Social are, for the moment, former Rough Charm members Will Abercombie and Ashley Leese. The pair are currently looking for extra members, a lead guitarist and a bass player, with the possibility of another guitarist to take rhythm from Will, who would like to focus his duties on singing.

‘With The Rough Charm it was more shouty, indie, punky stuff.’ commented Will. ‘This new project will be more alternative and layered so I can actually sing in me own voice. I just hated the thought of being known as “just another Libertines/Arctic Monkey-ish” type band that every one forgets about after a few years. I rate the New English Social as capable of bigger and better things…’

2008 has been a tumultuous year for Will and The Rough Charm - a year that showed such signs of early promise being one of the six bands signed by the SONS record company, famed for having four of their bands simultaneously in the top five of the independent charts earlier this year, an accolade that heralded comparisons with Manchester’s Factory label of the late-eighties/early-nineties. Since then, however, things took a turn for the worse. SONS blamed financial reasons for their inability to sustain their bands’ assault on the charts, leading gasps of expectation into reversible huffs and puffs of frustration. In my opinion, people can say what they like about SONS, as they often do, but for those few weeks music lovers from across the entire country - and beyond - had their eyes on Stoke-on-Trent’s burgeoning scene. No mean feat, that.

So, as you can probably understand, making the decision to break away from SONS and The Rough Charm couldn’t have been easy for Will and Ashley. ‘It was pretty much my decision split the band up and I’m glad I did it,’ said Will. ‘We all still get on and if the other lads start new projects they’ve got my full support.’

These are comments echoed in the first of the tracks from New English Social’s new acoustic EP, “So“, its lyrics a veiled message that Will has no regrets - “Stand alone I need no more - no you won’t silence me. And I’m so not sorry for all I’ve done…” Will’s ability to carve up a decent tune is in no doubt, but reflected here is a songwriter growing up and looking forward. The raucous anthems of The Rough Charm have been supplanted by a more mature approach, a maturity that belies songwriter Will’s twenty years.

The next track, even better than the first, “Take No More” had me reaching for my CDs in confusion, such is the similarity between Will’s voice and playing style and now-retired local songsmith Andy Gower. So much in fact I had to eject the CD to check I was listening to the correct one. The sprightly and infectious choruses and mid-bar refrains could easily slip into Gower’s collection. Purely coincidental, said Will. The pair, in my opinion, will never be remembered as classic singers. But neither will Noel Gallagher or Paul Weller. For what they lack in range they add up for in the energy and passion in their delivery. And, of course, their songwriting ability. The comparisons are obvious.

On the strength of these two songs, it’s certainly worth checking the New English Social out in the not-too-distant future.


New English Social

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