Monday, January 26, 2009

The Old Bailey Review

To continue our feature on Tai Tai Alibi. Here is KongHongRock's album review of their EP The Old Bailey Sessions To own a copy of this CD, please contact the band at their website

In an age, where it seems like the "music" we are given by the big shots, tends to be extremely processed and designed solely for the purpose of turning subconsciously addictive cheese lines ala “This shit is bananas" into a mega million dollars. It is therefore refreshing when you get the rare chance to listen to a humble collection of songs whose rawness equals its power. It helps remind you that, hey, there is pure music out there and it CAN actually be decent to listen to.

One such example is The Old Bailey Sessions by Hong Kong rock outfit, Tai Tai Alibi. Not everyone is a fan of the EP format, and feel that paying any dollar for two-six songs is a silly way to spend ones money (especially in these times of doom & gloom) However I come from the school of thoughts, that EP's are the way forward. Perhaps one day I shall write a compelling argument as to why this is so, but for now, this is a CD review, and I could waste an infinity of HTML on my thoughts and views of music.

One major point I like about EP's, especially from new bands, is that for a reasonable price, you get a small catalogue of what a band is all about. It makes the selection of what songs appear on the album a very important decision, as bands have to explain who they are and why they are worth you seeing them or buying their produce again. After all, first impressions are everything aren't they?

What you get when you buy (well I obviously didn't buy The Old Bailey Sessions as I'm a broke bastard, so cheers for the gift fellas) the EP, is exactly that. It's a showcase as to who TTA are. And that's quite simply, a good fucking rock band. I have heard of these guys being described as all sorts of music (again another element which seems mandatory in today's music. Lets classify the soul out of anything possible , if its deemed "cool" we'll play it on our fouth generation iPod Nano's) So I apologise if my calling this release a good old fashioned rock mini album, not on the money for you.

The album make me nostalgic for the 90's bands. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of Live, Bush, Pearl Jam and not as famous but very similar: Theory of a Deadman. This is not to say that TTA are replicas of a successful formula, as they have found their own voice.

Guitars drive this EP from start to finish. Whether its the crisp acoustics's in A Million Miles Away or the reverb heavy backing guitar riff in A Little More Empty. If you don't like guitar solo's in songs, then 1.This band is not for you and 2.You are a jackass. This doesn't mean you should expect seven minute epic guitar battles between axemen Chris Collins and Tim Hills. All guitar parts sound like they have been planned out as opposed to "cool I can improvise in E pentatonic" like a lot of bands seem to do.

The rhythm section is like driving a Japanese car. It's not flashy or dazzles to the point of needing a pair of sunglasses. Instead its sturdy, rock solid, and reliable. You know you can count on it to get you from A to B.

Vocally, I have mentioned before when reviewing the two songs that also appeared on the UNDERGROUND SOMETHING ALTERNATIVE CD, that TTA are very strong when it comes to singing. Lyrically the guys aren't shabby either. It feels dark but somehow maintains quite a melodic edge.

In terms of production. It's mostly all DIY. The only thing that was recorded by someone else, was the drums. Everything else was done, mixed, matched, mashed and arranged by the band members. So to my surprise, it actually plays rather well. As I mentioned earlier, the record sounds raw, you will hear little imperfections, and parts where perhaps one instruments volume is unexpectedly louder than you feel it should be. Yet it all seems to work whilst maintaining its integrity.

Criticisms I do have about the album cover though. I'm afraid I do judge books by covers, and the cover for The Old Bailey Sessions EP, does not do it for me at all. I want logos! I want images that make me go, “shit that looks sweet it must therefore sound at least a 6/10!” I definitely don't want the colour orange with a “fade out” preset effect. However if my only major criticism comes in the form of a bands DIY album art. They must not be doing too bad a job at all.

For me the tracks to look out for are the high energy, head-banger Lost in You and the one which will get stuck in your head with its great lyrics, Cycle

So why buy this?
-It's actually proof that independent bands can record and mix their own records.

-It's accessible. It's heavy enough to play while drinking Sunday beers with the boys, but not too heavy that your nan will demand that you "turn off that racket and go sit in the garden."

-To prove your Facebook status of "I support Local Bands ^_^xoxo" is actually true, and you aren't just ironically trendy.

-Even if everything I have just wrote turns out to be more bullshit than John McCain's choice for Sarah Palin to actually be a vice president... of a continent. For $100 bucks you have a coaster that opened for the Manic Street Preachers.

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