Artist: Amateur Hour
Here we get to hear demo versions of songs Amateur Hour will be entering the studio with. Rest assured, when I go buy the finished product, it will include "Cesspool" or someone will get an earful from me. The track showcases everything that makes Amateur Hour great. Specifically, Amateur Hour is resplendent with two female leads that, at Amateur Hour's best, are perfectly complemented by moody guitar that both matches their emotive vocals and builds choruses that dial up the feeling. Case in point, on "Cesspool," Amateur Hour uses distorted acoustic guitar chords to set up a narrator/character's plaintive entreaty, "the baby's cradle wasn't made to be so cruel."
There is another side of Amateur Hour -- snaky Santana riffs, Latin-tinged bongo drums, and dare-I-say Spanish lyrics -- and it's no less praise-worthy. But it is less distinctive. Other bands could match it. But those same bands couldn't top the "Cesspool" vocal that haunts us as Martina Topley-Bird once did for Tricky. The vocal on "Solitario" similarly recalls Portishead, suggesting that treating the vocal on certain songs wouldn't disturb the vibe set by "Cesspool."
With the aforementioned reference points in mind, Amateur Hour might have found their road map for successfully spotlighting the female leads; and rather than it being Latin-influenced, it may be the very landscape inhabited by both Tricky and Portishead -- that is, trip hop. Regardless, Amateur Hour have smartly built their band around phenomenal females; and we simply sit back and enjoy.
*** The author of this review, Richard Miller, plays the steelpan for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8