Skates And Wagons – #ep: EP Review

Oxfordshire duo, Skates And Wagons, get to grips with a new Britpop

Release Date:  1st December 2020

Label: White Label Music

Formats: AWAL

Chances are, you won’t have heard of Skates and Wagons.  They’re an Oxfordshire-based duo and #ep is their debut release and, on the evidence of this short collection, they’ve got a lot going for them. 

The duo is Adrian Dacre (drums) and Carlton Tylor (vocals, guitars, keyboards and percussion), their sound combines post-psychedelic 60s influences including The Small Faces, The Kinks and The Beatles with healthy strains of Britpop and their mission is to strip music back to its roots, away from what the guys refer to as “sampled pop-tosh.”  An admirable objective!  They’ve made a point of using only ‘classic’ rock instruments, so guitars and some lush Hammond organ dominate the proceedings and the whole thing, topped off by Carlton’s dominant vocals, makes for an enjoyable and exhilarating listening experience.

Whilst the name Skates And Wagons may be a new one to most At The Barrier visitors, Adrian and Carlton have both been around for a long time.  Adrian has worked in music for more than 30 years, a period that has included a stint as drummer for Badly Drawn Boy; Carlton has a long experience of gigging and touring with a string of earlier bands.

#ep has had a long gestation.  The duo started working on its creation back in 2011 and now, at last, it’s good to go and will hopefully provide a foretaste of the debut album that is planned for release in 2021.

We kick off with Just Because You Can (Doesn’t Mean That You Should), a tight and punchy number that could, with a fair wind behind it, just maybe spearhead the breakthrough these guys deserve.  The band’s own description “…Like the lovechild of The Small Faces and The Kinks at the height of their Acid-washed Mod-ness” is perhaps a little wishful, but the resonant bass, persistent drum patterns and churning guitars certainly make a great noise that recalls the best of Britpop.

Spin My Wheels is an utterly fascinating song; the thrashing guitar and the spacey theremin make an interesting combination (indeed, I’ve rarely heard a theremin being used to such good effect) and the song’s chorus is topped off by some full-bore Hammond organ that, in this case, really does echo The Small Faces at their psychedelic zenith.

A smoother sound, dominated by acoustic guitar and full-on drums and bass, is adopted for the epic Tender (Is The Night).  It’s a ballad, highly reminiscent of John Lennon’s Hold On and The Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down (deliberate, apparently – The Beatles are a deep influence) and lyrics inspired by the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The song is dreamy yet powerful with an anthemic ending and the sound evolves into something that resembles Oasis with the rougher edges removed.

EP closer, Law As I Am True, is a fast thrash of sharp guitar chords and thudding drums, counterbalanced by a slower, melodic chorus.  It’s here that the duo really does capture the Oasis sound, and the song is a worthy ending to an EP that is very good indeed.  Watch these guys!  

Skates and Wagons online: Facebook / Soundcloud

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