North West Soul

Cracking stuff from up North and an ostentatious start for Alterkicks on the Fierce Panda record label. Apparently the band were formed through strangers coming together from adverts placed in local record shops in Oct 2003. Listening to the results you get the impression they've been together far longer as they play with a confidence that belies their inauspicious beginnings.

The lead track is injected with a 60's sensibility - by way of Love - and is a concisely assembled piece of power pop that rattles along with energy and verve due to some rather nifty guitar work. Whilst the aforementioned influences hang heavy, the song never buckles under their weight and shows the band to be adept at pulling off that tricky manoeuvre of avoiding the path of fawning copyists and heading off down the road of constructed appreciation.

The other 2 tracks "The Cannibal Hiking Disaster" ( lyrically, Hammer House of Horror goes camping) and "Do Me a Favour" are cut through with a more down beat melancholic edge and show the singer, Martin Stilwell, to possess a voice that is equally at ease with the speedy brashness of pop and the closer setting of the acoustic environment. "Do Me a Favour" being a particularly affecting downbeat number that is in the singer's words "either about being dumped or dying, Whichever you choose".