Land of the Giants - Surrender

by Oliver Rose

The most hard-working band in the South West have done it again. From the ginger, acoustic pussyfooting that introduces Holy Funk to the duelling trombone/flugelhorn apex of closer Big Steady Eddie, theirs is, as ever, a rockin’, rollickin’ sound. Its sole purpose?  Conjuring the dancer within and setting off the fireworks. The Surrender EP is a joyous fiesta of rich, colourful tones and chilled-out holiday vibes – so, without further ado, vamanos!

This is, in the truest sense of the term, feel-good music, devoid of pretentious sincerity and self-conscious artistic agonies; it’s accessible, it’s danceable, and it’s rhythmic. Andrew Quick’s Chic-like licks flicker in the backdrop of the first track, his gravelly voice demonstrating a pleasantly unexpected, springy quality that catapults the vocals into infectious territory. Tom Ogilvie’s buoyant basslines interlock brilliantly with the cavernous whomping of Kevin Greep’s drums and, together with the exuberant horn section, piloted with zest by Gaz and Glyn le Page, they constitute a formidably funky congregation of musicians. Cy Brandl’s lead guitar, fuzzy and fresh, is best appreciated in the madly-paced reggae flip-flop of Crazy Lady, lurching excitedly as it does between kick-drum clobbers and hi-hat smashes. By the end of the EP, you’ll be flailing wildly around for the replay button – trust me. Kudos also to the band for their choice of format here: thanks to the comfortably brief duration of an EP, their ideas aren’t given enough space to be spread thinly over and, subsequently, the sound is never allowed to become boring. Instead, the songs bob pleasantly along, each as enjoyable as the last, never grating or out-staying its welcome (bar track 1, everything here clocks in at a radio-friendly sub-4-minute runtime)

Perhaps the most special thing here however, is Land of the Giants’ unique sound, built though it is on an eclectic array of influences: in the horn section, one considers the melodramatic chromaticity of Cake; in the basslines the meandering exoticism of the Fine Young Cannibals; in the vocals, the grainy tenor of Elbow’s Guy Garvey. But Surrender never comes-off sounding like an imitation or half-baked. This is a very fresh set of songs and certainly, given the otherwise stagnant state of affairs in today’s MIDI-drenched independent music scene, it’s heart-warming to encounter a sound with more heart and soul on the fringes, surviving outside of the mainstream on good old-fashioned elbow grease; the band have averaged 150 gigs a year since their formation in 2009 and, with no signs of slowing down, that makes them a considerable force, not just in these toe-tapping nineteen minutes, but for a good while to come.

Land of the Giants are playing Exeter Castle tonight (October 2nd), with support from Will and the People, before embarking on a UK tour, which you can learn more about here.