Whole Sky Monitor

Being a Leeds lad born ‘n’ bred I always feel that I should have a certain obligation to support bands with a Leodisian origin. But I don’t – If I think a band is rubbish it matters not to me that they are from my part of the world – if they’re rubbish they’re rubbish. I guess supporting bands isn’t the same as supporting your hometown football club. This could be a shame because at the moment there’s a very healthy burgeoning music ‘scene’ going on in Leeds – although some good stuff comes out of it; and some….not so good.

So how do Whole Sky Monitor fit into this non-loyalist attitude? Well I liked the look of them when I saw the CD. Nice black and white minimalist cover; thought-provoking photography inside. And they look engagingly enigmatic on their website.

Tip – don’t listen to this album on a cheap personal CD player whilst also trying to concentrate on a tricky issue on your PC at work. It’ll give you a headache. On this equipment the drums sounded a bit too harsh and high up in the mix - the effect was similar to being repeatedly bashed over the head with an empty biscuit tin – rhythmic enough but painful after a while.

However, revert to listening on a decent system (which actually has a bass knob) and this album is good listen. There’s nothing significantly original going on here but the music is loud and raucously ramshackle - there’s chunky, choppy guitars and the tracks rattle along at a fair old pace.

A bit like Hard-fi with their love of Staines; they’re a band stimulated by their environment; with song-titles like ‘Harehills, Chapeltown’ which as lead single from the album gave a rip-roaring statement of intent. With lyrics which reference ‘all white steel bands’ and ‘GCSE hip-hop’ it evokes the diverse cultural fusion of this city suburb melting pot.

The band have a bluesy swagger reminiscent of peak period Godfathers; and the album stomps along in this vain but then quite unexpectedly there are also some much subtler tones employed as the album builds. Indeed the final track ‘url’ is a one minute lullaby of a closing coda which emphasises as postscript the lyrical and song-writing qualities of Whole Sky Monitor that belie the boisterous bluster of the initial impressions of that first listen.

Steve Claire