NEW YOUTH BIBLE by Edinburgh School For The Deaf (2011)
I like to buy CDs from bands I have never heard of, and as you would expect, I have a preference to buy Scots acts in order to expand my limited knowledge of up and coming bands in Alba. I am in my mid-30s after all.
Last week I picked up a copy of New Youth Bible from Love Music near Queen Street station. You know, the old Avalanche music shop? Anyway, it was the name of the band that attracted me: Edinburgh School For The Deaf, what a cool moniker. The image on the CD cover suggested rebellion, lack of fear and sassiness. But that wasn’t the reason for buying it. The name alone won that fight.
So what did I get? A bloody good CD, that’s what!
The whole production is a kinda lo-fi Sonic Youth or Masters of Reality type sound and the Edinburgh based four-piece appear to be inspired, in song title at least, by Scotland and by pain. They are the same thing at times.
As an album it gets off to a growling start with Of Scottish Blood And Sympathies. The haunting female vocal of Ashley Campbell is accompanied by almost Celtic-esque battle guitar work. You can imagine this as a lament and a battle-cry in one. It is an epic 7 minutes and it is a ballsy way to open an album. No two-minute pop songs here. At least not to start with.
Thirteen Holy Crowns is an absolutely stonking track with fantastic roomy vocals, this time male from Kieran Naughton, and fuzzy production that throbs and pulses its way through the kind of song keeps goths unhappy. But if this is a dark low, the following track on the album, All Hands Lost is borderline country, twangy guitar and all – only the vocal sounds akin to a Belle and Sebastian offering.
There is a hint of the experimental about some of the other tracks on New Youth Bible – the brilliantly titled My Name Is Scotland And I Am An Alcoholic sadly fails to live up to its billing. It is more the stuttering and morose drunk as opposed to the ones I know. Maybe it is a Glasgow/Edinburgh thing.
All in all, though, this is a fantastic piece of work from a relatively obscure band (they don’t even have a Wiki page) who appear focused on their music as opposed to what the record company proles want to hear. It was annoying me who Edinburgh School For The Deaf most reminded me of and then it came to me, Jesus And The Mary Chain. Not a bad comparison and they are not out of their depth in that company.
James A. Stewart
As a footnote: the actual disk’s cover had Edinburgh School For The Death as its title. Strange.