Iain Morrison put out two separate EP’s this year at the same time. HPM reviewed the first one “3 am” last month, and now Iain’s other EP “Amusement Arcade” goes under the microscope. Just like “3 am”, this EP see’s Iain branching out from his heavily Celtic inspired folk rock into other areas of rock – all of which are usually with more guts and gruffness than his previous work.
The title track is the most like his usual output. A slow building rock track around a simple bass riff that unfolds into something of a chugging rock number. It’s seeped in Morrison’s usual miserable tone and taut, gasping for air vocal style that makes every word he utters sound important, bigger than life and crammed with trauma. The second half of the track see’s the Celtic influence with fiddles and violins underscoring the grungy folk before “Let’s Go Captain” switches everything over to a folktronica sound. Quickfire acoustic guitar bounces about like a barn dance at 150bph before it explodes into a trashing and rousing chorus. Does it sound like a sea shanty? Yes – if the pirates wanted to mosh to the mermaids – and I’m so very OK with this. It sounds fantastic. “Olden” is a gritty plodder of a rock track. It sways, stumbles, skips and drags its sorry self through its six-minute dirge like a slow-motion haunting. The backing vocal ooh’s, the echoed piano and jangly bells and bent sympathetic strings behind the guitar plod gives a real lethargic tone to the track in a good way. It sandwiches the two quick tracks which make it stand out too as “Like Wolves” is about as a radio-friendly as Iain Morrison gets and the track as a whole reminds me strongly of the artist Sea Wolf. Chunky drums, strong acoustic guitar-led melodies and cracking lyrics. “Best Damn Clothes” nods towards a lonely man’s country music vibe and across the track, things get more raucous and angsty. A signature of the vocals on Amusement Arcade is to create choruses that have lots of voices shouting the lyrics behind Iain later on – and here it works excellently against a tidy country track that’s degenerating into classic rock. The EP closes with “Eat Your Kale” which is a bass guitar led minimalist piece showing a husky and seductive melancholy to proceedings.
It’s another stonking release from the Scotsman who continues to open up his musical palette. If you liked 3 am, you’ll like this too and vice versa – so do yourself a favour and grab both! Scottish folk-rock at its miserable finest.
Recommended track: Let’s Go Captain
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