Laika – Turn A Leaf EP
Spike Oatley and Gareth Maude have two of the most distinctive voices on the Island music scene and their Wild Oats project has been a long-time favourite across pubs and festival for many years. Around six months ago they decided that it was time to separate their duo work with the occasional outings of the Wild Oats full-band version. Thus, Laika was born to stop the confusion, as this is now the band version, with Rafe Spencer, Pete Corney and Ross Buckley completing the line up and Turn A Leaf is their debut EP.
The melding of Spike and Gareth’s vocals have always been one of the strongest aspects of whatever musical guise they have taken and the EP opens with two tracks that bring this firmly to the forefront. ‘His Days Have No Sound’ is the delicate beginning with an organ drifting in and out, finger-picked guitar and waves of cymbal. ‘Morning Skin’ has two guitars working together much like the dual vocals, sometimes together, sometimes spaced and set against what sounds like Rafe Spencer’s double bass being mournfully played with a bow.
Track three ‘Troubadour Blues’ allows Spike’s voice to demonstrate it’s trembling qualities whilst the song as a whole sounds as if the band are just restraining themselves from breaking into a massive, heavier middle-eight section. It never comes, no bad thing. ‘Trick Of The Light’ is next with banjo and organ giving a Neil Young-esque edge. Then closer ‘Dancing In Our Graves’ leaves us with a jaunty trumpet line from Tim Parkin over skipping, brushed drums. This is the most distinctively uptempo tune on the release and the band have stated already that this is the “single” of all the five songs.
Recorded at Studio Humbug (this could be a very common theme this year) by Jim and Rob Homes, it has been perfectly balanced sonically and sounds like a band happy with their lot. Classic-era R.E.M. and Grant Lee Buffalo are the closest comparisons. Recommended soundtracking for drowsy mornings.
Available from Laika’s website http://www.laikamusic.com/ or from them in person at gigs or if you catch Spike and Gareth busking!