Gunning For Tamar - Deaf Cow Motel [EP]
Gunning For Tamar's debut EP proper Deaf Cow Motel follows on from 2010's split release with fellow Oxfordonians, Phantom Theory. Signed to masters of impeccable taste, Walnut Tree Records (Tiger Please, Drawings), the four-piece will have drawn on their considerable live experiences to capture the energy that has drawn them so much attention. Recording with producer Tom Woodhead, the man behind Talons and Cats and Cats and Cats sound, will have only helped their cause.
Having already featured on both Scuzz and NME TV, you may be familiar with 'German Treasure Island', an atmospheric opener that kicks off with pacey and aggressive drumming, before angular and rhythmic guitars come in and bring the sound to another level. A cross between Meet Me In St Louis and the more straightforward 00s emo of Funeral For A Friend and Hundred Reasons, the opening vocal line is delivered by Joe Wallis in candid fashion: "I saw you fall down that rabbit hole". This is followed by the equally emotive and visceral: "ll wear my chains if you tie your wings". A line that shows a band willing to put their hearts on the line for their art, but luckily for us they manage to cut loose with their experimental instrumentation. Dynamic, crunching guitars are the driving force that introduces you to 'Running With Scissors', a bizarrely danceable mix of Youthmovies experimentation and post-hardcore sounds. "I can't bring myself to move" sings Wallis, but you get the feeling he's not talking about his listeners. The song than slows down, culminating in an almost ambient conclusion.
What you quickly sense is GFT's trademark - fierce and uncompromising drumming - opens 'God Made Colours', although the introduction of the other instruments is a little more serene, in the vein of Jeniferever. Wallis' vocals soar over the melodic guitar work that, although technical, is never pompous. The instrumentation is perhaps more challenging than it has any right to be, but GFT have the right mixture of confidence and expert know-how to pull it off. It's something quite special indeed. Very spaced out at times, you find yourself drifting away but also aware that there are more twists and turns ahead. The vibrant nature of their sound continues on the closing 'Bonfires', a song that, for me, is possibly their most accessible, even though the very first line is: "My feet in the water, and it's rising to my neck". They're a happy bunch, as most Oxford bands seem to be. Progressive and positive soundscapes surround talk of gripping a girl tightly and how the subject matter: "wants to sit and watch her eyes map the world". Almost heartbreaking, you can understand the point they are making, especially with the towering riffs and insanely pulsating drums that are impossible to ignore. It is a thrilling end to a rewarding listen.