I have loved the resurgence of vinyl as a medium for music again these last few years. It has also given rise to some cottage industry-style releases and label setups. One of the latter is the label created by what is probably the best record shop in Yorkshire, Vinyl Eddie in York. The label, unsurprisingly, is called Vinyl Eddie Records and is preparing two release their next two slabs of vinyl, two collections by York’s laid-back, psyched-out, grungy noiseniks, Soma Crew. Two volumes of rather delightful tunes from this very talented band. The two volumes will be issued under the main title of ‘The Hunmanby Gap Sessions’. Volume 1 is subtitled ‘Out Of Darkness’ and Volume two will be ‘Into Light’. The out-of-darkness and into-light stance may relate to the terrible year we have all been through, but I am not sure all of these tracks were written post-Covid. But either way, there are some fantastic tunes here which will certainly help lift the mood into something more positive. Soma Crew are almost mysterious as there is not much information available about them online. They formed in 2013, and were initially called Muttley Crew Is that a pun on Motley Crue or an homage to Dick Dastardly’s sidekick? . It came about after a few friends got together after regular attendance at open mic nights in York. There seems to have been an array of members over the years (including those featured on the album sleeves). Si Micklethwaite, singer, songwriter, and guitarist has certainly been ever-present and maybe some of the other members have, but the internet is really short on bio data for this rather excellent band.
Volume 1 opens with “Phantom” an intriguingly hypnotic slice of melodic shoegaze with added drone. I love it! Next up “Wishlist” continues the perfectly executed drone rock with a rumbling bass that hits you right in the chest when you play it loud. This one has a nice injection of Velvet Underground style. If Jonathan Richman had joined the aforementioned Velvet Underground I think they might have produced something like “You’re So Cool”. I can imagine this supported by a video-heavy on the use of an oil lamp projector and psychedelic filters. “Half-Life” is majestically chilled, with a steam train drone and some stunning use of organ as it builds towards a huge crescendo of an ending. This track made me think of Spiritualized, which given that Soma Crew state one of their influences as Spaceman 3 I am not surprised. This song made me want to spliff up and lie in a hammock in the sunshine! I have no real idea why, but “Mighty Forces” was reminiscent of John Squire, in a world where Squire was a member of the Grateful Dead. This is probably my favourite track on volume 1. This first disc closes with “Happening” a Soma Crew song you could almost dance to, well at least frug around a bit.
“Hey Sister” kicks off volume 2 and it has a great psyched up 60s Pink Floyd vibe going on, Syd Barrett would have been proud of this one. “There’s A Fire” flies off the blocks like a proper rock bastard and I reckon a Jason Pierce remix of this would be ace. Next up we are treated to the more chilled side of Soma Crew again with “Broken Matches” a really understated tune driven by a rhythm on top form. The band showcase their more electronic sound on the intro to “Machines”, although guitar, bass and drums still feature heavily as the track progresses. I love the distortion on this one, it is an amazing track to listen to on headphones. Simon’s vocal is almost choral in style here. On “Seven” they sound like a warped alt.country band who trespassed into the KLF’s White Room. It definitely crosses the Weirdsville City Limits as it builds into an other worldly anthem. This is potentially my favourite of the whole collection. “Nicotine Drum” certainly owes a debt to Spaceman 3, but it is a great song in its own right. I am so looking forward to getting my hands on both these LPs. I am also looking forward to the opportunity of seeing Soma Crew live sometime soon.
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