18 April, 2014 in Music Reviews
London three piece Doe take the blueprint of Lou Barlow and display hints of greatness on their excellent EP ‘Sooner’
wenty years ago this August, one of the members of indie-rock royalty released an album that would go on to be regarded as one of the crown jewels of the genre. Having cut his teeth in alt-rock titans Dinosaur Jr, Lou Barlow’s 1988 dismissal from that group would serendipitously allow him to focus on his own band.
By the time 1994 rolled around Sebadoh had released four fine albums. Bakesale was to prove the crowning glory of their catalogue and would go on to provide a reference point for any indie-rock band worth their salt.
Doe are a London three-piece, featuring guitarist and vocalist Nicola, drummer Jake and guitarist Matt, and are one of the finest recent acts to have taken the Bakesale blueprint as guide to indie-rock success.
On their EP Sooner the influence of Bakesale is felt within the first seconds of opener Unrested. An excitable and bounding update of Sebadoh’s mournful Not A Friend, it adds in the weaving, dual-guitar assault that reached its high watermark on the Pixies’ epoch-defining Doolittle. With a superb appreciation for the muted bridge and rolling chorus, it picks the listener up before sitting them down and then dragging them along waves of distortion.
Why Are You opens with a moody melody that has echoes of the criminally underrated 4 Or 5 Magicians, before making a faithful nod towards the excellent female trio Sleater Kinney in a grungey chorus that see Nicola wringing every ounce of emotion from her taut, yet cathartic, voice.
Closer Redo/Improve is the perfect synthesis of the energy of Superchunk and the Pixies’ pop songwriting craft. It races through its two-minute length without the need to look over its shoulder, confident in its place at the head of the indie-rock pack chasing the greatness of their forbearers, before ending with an assured clash of drums and guitar.
As the EP reaches its climax and the dust settles you’ll be grateful for the automatic repeat function that the passage of technology allows, for the gripe of rising to hit play again is one that would be keenly felt without it.
In a present that’s seen indie-rock make a triumphant stab at matching the unfeasibly high standards set in the early 90s, with Speedy Ortiz, Joanna Gruesome and Tyrannosaurs Dead all making music that Cobain, Francis and Barlow would gleefully call their own, the stakes are high for any indie-rock group. On Sooner Doe have marked themselves out as a band with the potential to join the seating at indie-rock’s throne and imprint their own jewels onto its crown.
Verdict: An outstanding slab of indie-rock