Friday, 26 November 2010

The Fragrant Vagrants Take High Tea, EP

Review by Sian Eardley

So following the thoroughly enjoyable gig of Adam Green, I’m sent this EP ‘The Fragrant Vagrants Take High Tea’ from the Congleton based band who supported the eccentric genius that night, my precious recollection of them:- "The Fragrant Vagrants’ blew me away from walking through the door, let alone the headline act. Where have this band been hiding? Stoke shows us their defiance in delivering quality indie rock of a high caliber; the kind we’ve been crying out for," pays homage to their brilliant little EP. Well-produced and well put together, it’s rather good for a local effort. Not cheaply printed with somewhat of an art deco design, it’s obvious that this band have something, substance; they quite clearly take care in the quality of their productions, releases and material.

The name itself ‘Take High Tea’ suggests they have something to say, whilst giving the sweet bohemian image that so many of today crave and love – the Alice in Wonderland image bombarding the highstreets (Topshop/Miss Selfridge etc.) However, (recalling my last views), I do feel that The Fragrant Vagrants have to be seen live to do them full justice. They gel together well on record, but even more so in their raw performances, and personally that’s where I think their real essence lies, and if you haven’t got your stage shows nailed and on a par with the recorded stuff then there really is no hope.

‘The Duke’ – a fantastic and roaring opener reminiscent of guitars from the Pumpkins, with the defiant vocals of the likes of The Clash and The Jam. A pure exploration into a punk indulgence. TFV are living proof that punk is alive and well in Stoke, exhilarated by their soaring angst and energy to pack out local venues.

We progress go the stomping ‘Common Ground’, spunky, punky and full of in-your-face attitude. They can’t be ignored – fitting for their Adam Green appearance and fitting for their impressionable state of beautiful varieties of bass amplitude sensations and ‘two fingers’ lyrics. A talented bunch.

‘Blood’ offers something fresh in its insanity of the main guitar riff, which you can’t help but love with every listen. With its heavy and prominent bass lines it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser and I’d guarantee you’d be nodding along to it in seconds and feverishly if live.

‘Blinkers’ for me is a tribute to the legendary Ian Curtis, back in his early ‘Warsawza’ days. It’s definitely haunting, but in a good way. ‘Left, right, Left right’ they roar, reminiscent of Joy Division’s hypnotic ‘Digital’. The aged vocals make TFV more distinctive than any poppy preppy effort from a band of 15-year-old youths.

The closing ‘Useless Generation’ ends on a high note indeed. Funky, fresh riff shredding injects a hedonistic rhythm into your body, sounding like an advert for Garnier Fructis’ hair wax but with more bites and more balls – if you will a more amplified version of Dogs/Subways.

What you see is what you get here, and if decent punk music set up to 21st century speed isn’t for you then sod off; a little treasure on CD, but an intense spectacle on stage.


The Fragrant Vagrants

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