A few bands have this year shot up to become some of my favourites, not just locally but just favourites. Of course one of these bands is BK & Dad, who I saw a few days ago, the other are Norwich’s Grazing Saints. My introduction to them was via a solo acoustic set by singer-songwriter Joe Quinn. He later explained it was his first solo performance and he was wracked with nerves, but if so it only lent his voice more power. He has a husky growl of a voice at times, but it can also sound tender, pained, and despairing, which fits the songs perfectly as his lyrics are very open and personal. Here is an articulate wordsmith not afraid to bare his soul or talk about his demons.
As a full band they can be breathtaking and full of incredible power. Bassist Paul, a long-time friend of Joe’s is as accomplished a bass player as I think I have heard, and he knows exactly the way to perform to Joe’s lyrics, scratchy guitar, power chords, sparse notes and echo. They are on the same musical wavelength and it gives the band immense strength and expression. Recent recruit to drums is the sympathetic Robbie who has fitted in seamlessly and perfectly. As a unit they know how to channel their power, always knowing when to use some repetition, reverb, a crashing chord or even some empty space. This is where the influence of Neil Young shows to good effect.
What prompted me to write this little piece was watching the podcast of their performance of Windows in the BBC Introducing studios last week. Quite how this new song has landed so fully formed is astonishing but take a look at the video, and the faces of all in the studio, clearly in awe of brilliant musical moment, the repetition in that bass riff is really haunting.
There is darkness in this band, pain and suffering, aching and longing, sadness and melancholy, some anger too but much beauty also. Everything is well channeled and expressed and there is something special going on here.
I believe Joe is performing solo tonight at Jurnet’s Bar – which I cannot make but it should be excellent – and again this Saturday at the Waterfront Studio, about 8pm, and this one I shall be there for. They have an excellent EP available for download called Infernal Combustion Engine, with another in the pipeline. Brilliant band.
Words by richard shashamane