R E V I E W
‘Demo’ by Ancient Tapes
By Ian Duggan
Ahead of their support for The Wedding Present, Hamilton band Ancient Tapes have released their second EP, ‘Demo’.
Comparing their early-2015 ‘Hummingbird’ EP release and 'Demo', the band has had one change in personnel, with a swap of drummer from Mark McGeady to Cam Reid (though they also had another drummer in the interim). This change has resulted in the drums moving to the forefront of the mix, particularly on the second track ‘Brighter’, which has led to the largest alteration in the band’s sound between the two releases.
The four songs on the EP are diverse. Opening track ‘Can’t Change’ appears particularly ‘shoegazey’ — a genre label that the band have given themselves, yet simultaneously have tried to distance themselves from. The guitar effects, combined with Sam Brockelsby’s somewhat blurred, ethereal vocals (though these, too, are now more clearly in the mix than previously), mean the shoegaze comparisons on this song are unavoidable. Nevertheless, with its layered guitars the track also sounds in parts to be somewhat reminiscent of (non-shoegazey) songs from the recent Elider album, ‘Redbird’. Regardless of its sound, or potential influences, ‘Can’t Change’ is a cracker of a track.
The second track, ‘Brighter’ — another highlight — opens with prominent drums, and the third, ‘Heartshaped’, with some big meaty guitar. These continue to provide the EP with a sound much larger overall than anything that appeared on Hummingbird, though the songs themselves still remain true to the spirit of that release. With their support slot imminent, the closing track ‘Every Word She Said’ appears to share some likenesses with The Wedding Present; from the 20 second mark we start to get some higher pitched, fast-paced jangly guitar (like that of ‘Brassneck’ or ‘Take Me’ off Bizarro, but hidden back in the mix), which become more prominent the further you progress through the song.
Overall, the ‘Demo’ EP maintains the high standards set by the band on their previous release, while also demonstrating a progression in sound and confidence. It’s louder and bolder, while still being unmistakably Ancient Tapes, and well worth a listen. The four track EP is available as a digital download or as a retro ‘no-frills’-style cassette (which can be ordered online, or picked up at shows for a measly $5!).
Visit Ancient Tapes' Bandcamp here: https://ancienttapes.bandcamp.com/v