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The Wicked RavensThe Wicked Ravens
Album: In The Woods
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 10

The Wicked Ravens debut album, In The Woods, is a modern album of alt folk-rock cloaked in a kaftan.

Right from the start of the opening track, Country Song, with it's muffled growling guitar riff, you are in the room with the band. You can hear the space around them as they record live in the singers dining room. Listening, as the album unfolds, you can imagine the furniture piled up, the pictures on the wall, discarded coffee mugs and half eaten snacks littered amongst the instruments and the 4 band members having fun playing their music, live, together and as one. The album was recorded over 2 days on an 8 track machine. Far from limiting the music, this old style approach has captured a great performance. The warmth of the recording shrouds you like a blanket as you curl up on a bean bag in the corner of that make shift recording studio come dining room, whilst the band play on.

Now it has to be said that maybe I'm being a bit fanciful because when I read the album notes I see from the line up and instruments played, that there may have been overdubs after the initial tracks were laid down. I'm going to ignore that possibility though, because I like the sound of the album and the idea of them all sweating together to create it.

On my first listen I sat back and let the album wash over me and it was a satisfying experience. Before I heard the whole album I had listened to Capo 1 on the bands Soundcloud page. Its guitar lines and atmospherics, so reminiscent of Pink Floyd circa Astronomy Domine, were enough to make me confident I was going to like this album.

Lucky for me then when I did hear the entire 10 tracks I was willingly ensnared and gently drawn into what the band describe as "dirty marsh music, psych folk rock". The band say that if you like shiny auto-tuned music you won't like what they do. True enough and there are imperfections. Actually though, the albums "loose" style is more of a strength than a weakness and achieves what I think the band set out to create. Those that want a particular clean style of production may not like this homegrown approach but generally for me it works and lets the music shine through. Maybe I would have preferred a snappier drum sound but hey, I'm splitting hairs.

The album unfolds moodily and maintains your interest. It quickly seems to swagger to one of my favourites, the penultimate track, 59 Summers and then ends with an ironic twist, Happy Ending. The song itself is quite melancholic but as a way to round off proceedings, it was indeed a happy end and left me wanting to listen again. Which I have many times and enjoyed it all the more.

Stick your headphones on, shut your eyes and be seduced by the music as it drives you through the night to an underground club in the late 60's, where you settle back and enjoy the band and the de rigueur psychedelic light show.

James Morris