Album Review by Andy Gee
THE OTHER SIDE - Don't Piss Down My Back (and tell me it's raining) CD THE OTHER SIDE – Don't Piss Down My Back (and tell me it's raining) CD The all-important “second album” syndrome, following a debut that had more than its fair share of highs, from Fife dual-guitar driven quartet who are playing something that's kind of a mix of Classic Rock, Contemporary Indie, American Southern Rock Guitar and Electric Blues, but with nothing that you can isolate as being any one of the aforementioned styles – it's not like anything you've heard before.
The album's title track – a reaction towards the current economic situation of the country – is a 5 minute affair but sets the scene well – beginning with thunderous guitar riffing, driving drumming, powerhouse bass and then all of a sudden out of nowhere this scything, clean-cut electric lead breaks out as the thing chugs along with strength and juggernaut-like qualities. Then in comes the vocal – and here is where they become completely distinctive and unique – for it's a vocal that is upfront and easily discernible while at the same time sounding like they were recorded in the hallway outside the studio – it's extraordinary but it works – in fact, it works a treat – for it allows you to appreciate and enjoy the song while at the same time as allowing the guitars to be the stars at the same time as the rhythm section be the engine room and you get to hear every darned thing from the furious swirling riffing to the scything leads, a bit like Thin Lizzy put through a bluesy blender.
After this comes “”Anger Is A Gift”, again just over 5 minutes, and here there's more of an intense urgency to the vocals, full of impassioned anguish yet still “out there”, full-sounding yet oddly high-flying, sounding more like it's multi-tracked when it probably isn't. The guitars produce a river of surging riffs on top of which the lead guitar solos and rises up as the rhythm section take the chugging thunder to bass-driven heights and it all has the adrenaline flowing despite not being overly fast but the guitar work is electrifying to make up for that, again Classic Rock dual-guitar seventies-esque but so powerful at the same time.
“Breaking Free” is vintage '70's blues-rock and, at over 7 minutes long, just glows with the guitar work as leads and riffs fire up and flare out of every pore, the rhythm section a bluesy juggernaut of epic proportions as the vocals echo and resonate, rising upwards with the song's arrangement and that spiralling guitar lead as the solid riff and thudding rhythms remain unwavered, the whole thing one of the most electrifying examples of a modern take on an old style that you'll hear right now.
“Technicolour Valium” accelerates the pace as the guitars drive forward and the song is hammered out with that “distant” vocal as clear as a bell as the song becomes the star this time around and arguably the most commercial track on the album becomes a flaming supernova of mid-paced, fuzzed-up, dirty riffing, rhythmically strong, guitar-shine magic, and the guitar solo is the icing on the cake above the roar of the riffs and rhythms.
But if all that wasn't enough, there comes the album's “piece-de-resistance” in the form of the the 8 minute “Strange Thing” that takes later era Pink Floyd songwriting, arranging and even sound, by the scruff of the neck, puts it through a dual-guitar blender, even adds the Gilmour-esque harmonies and a so similar sounding vocal, to a song that is just incredible – there's no other word for it – the best song that the Floyd never wrote only all guitars and bluesier – just jaw-dropping. The song takes up the first half of the proceedings, complete with high-flying chorus, huge sound, resonating guitars, soaring verses, more guitars and the dependable rhythm section underpinning it all with some deep bass and crunchy drumming. But then it takes off for the final part of the song and it's like Floyd doing “Free Bird” as the sound of dual guitars rises up and simply electrifies your senses, slowly accelerating into a firehouse of guitars that Skynyrd would have killed to emulate – in short, it's genius!!
After this, they sensibly elect to give us a couple of three minute tracks that drive forward, “Can't Stop This Feeling” being a rousing rocker as only the band could play it, while “When” is the closest that they actually get to real Classic Rock on a song that tears along in a blaze of riffs and leads, still bluesy but the nearest to anything “metal” that there's been so far – seventies metal, of course.
Finally, if you haven't already been knocked sideways by this album so far, the band then delivers the killer blow in the form of the 15 – count 'em – minute guitar-toting epic that is “Hold On” and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that it's a classic – starts with chiming, ringing guitar, uplifting electric lead then a burst of riffing, more chiming, the crunch of the rhythm section, slow at first, as a lengthy guitars-driven intro takes the track to great heights in a whirlwind of guitars and you're 5 minutes in before the “vocal from the shed” enters and starts to deliver the song that's full of relaxed emotion as the guitars swirl in what's been the album's most psychedelic five minutes to date. The rhythm section clatters and crashes, drives it all forward, the song takes off and what seems like a million guitars deliver the expanse that is the riffs, rhythms and leads. But what really amazes, is that, throughout the piece, they keep it all on the same intensity level rather than using dynamics like a”normal” Classic Rock band would, so you get this awesome river of guitar density and biting dual leads running right through the heart of the track, which ends as it began – with a corking five minutes of instrumental, guitars-driven magic.
As the album fades, you remember to start breathing again, then go back to the beginning for another ride – or just go back to “Strange Thing” to be utterly thrilled time after time after time – on what is a truly incendiary album.