Review: The Machine Room EP Launch – The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh 03/03/12

Originally published for IAreYeti.

To celebrate the release of their debut EP, ‘Love from a Distance’, up-and-coming Edinburgh five-piece, The Machine Room, held a gig at The Wee Red Bar on Saturday night, with support coming from Zed Penguin and Blank Canvas. With three very different sounding acts lined up, it was set to be an interesting night.

Opening the gig was Zed Penguin, who began his set as just him and his guitar, before being joined by friends to play bass and drums on a few more songs. The lack of crowd members at this point made Matthew Winters’ solo half of the performance all the more intimate in such a small venue. To say his music is to an acquired taste is an extreme understatement, which is not to say it is bad, just perhaps a bit odd. Maybe if you were on a road trip through the American deserts, the songs would have more of an impact, but in this tiny venue it just didn’t seem to fit. However, when the band joined him for the remainder of his performance, the music sounded a bit fuller and seemed almost reminiscent of Josh Homme’s work on ‘The Desert Sessions’: it’s a bit psych-rock, a bit stoner-rock but quite blues-y at the same time.

Following on were Blank Canvas, whose upbeat indie-pop songs managed to get the increasing crowd up and moving. For a band that appear so young, their sound is surprisingly mature and is not just an emulation of every other wannabe Arctic Monkeys indie band. Their combination of smooth, dreamy melodies with deep, brooding vocals make for a collection of catchy, yet intriguing songs. Previously released single, ‘By the Fire’, is a great example of the kind of ‘pop songs with an edge’, or ‘heavy pop’, as WU LYF have described their music, that the band tends to create. While the band’s influences do come across in their sound, it is not obvious enough for it to be boring and over-done, as they put their own twist on the dark indie-rock style made popular by the likes of Joy Division and Interpol. Blank Canvas is definitely a band to look out for.

Then came the headliners, The Machine Room, much to the crowd’s delight. Popular singles, ‘Camino de Soda’ and ‘Your Head on the Floor Next Door’, were greeted with cheers and applause from fans; the latter of which has an opening lyric so ridiculous, it’s actually quite brilliant: “I’ve never felt so good since I sang Away in a Manger / I’ve never felt so bad since I went down on a stranger”. For a band to be able to put their songs across live as well as they do on their recordings is a rare skill but the fact that each member is as good as the other at what they do in The Machine Room makes this possible to achieve; something you wouldn’t expect considering the style of their music. As the band’s performance drew to a close, the crowd were left wanting more, with fans calling out for “one more tune”; a promising sign for a band still very much in their infancy.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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