Following the release of three excellent singles in 2019 - and a victory in the Scottish final of the Soundwaves Music Competition - Glasgow's Black Star Jackals set about recording their debut EP, but were 'hamstrung' by the pandemic and are now only just releasing 'Hollow', recorded over the last few months. It is a release, however, that has been well worth the wait - five tracks of rousing, catchy songs that are as varied as they are exciting and easily mixing indie, alternative and rock influences. With guitars that range from chiming jangle to Queens Of The Stone Age grunginess (courtesy of Stephen Joseph), a supple, lithe rhythm section (Max Lamprecht on bass and Calum MacPherson on drums) and the distinctive, impressive vocals of Kieran McFarlane, there is something for everyone on this excellent EP.
With its punchy opening chords, brisk pace and (the first of many) hooky choruses, 'Hollow' kicks off the EP in fine style, its upbeat musical tone providing a counterpoint to the powerful lyrics of frustration and anger. The stop-start 'Down This Road' is next, it's chiming guitars ably backed by a funky backbeat and providing a platform for McFarlane's soaring vocals. 'Party People' also brings a little funk to the proceedings along with classic rock sounding guitars, an anthemic chorus and a swagger that would demand attention at festivals and stadiums, while 'Always The Same' develops from a languid, melodic, ballad-like beginning into a loud, strident tune with choppy guitar chords on the chorus and a crescendo of a finish. An acoustic version of 'Down This Road' closes the EP and shows that, shorn of the electric guitars, the songwriting and vocal harmonies of Black Star Jackals work just as effectively in an acoustic setting as they do electrically.
Lyrically powerful, musically varied and with confident, expressive songwriting, 'Hollow' is a great EP that should appeal to a large number of people. With the band gearing up to take this fine music onto stages over the coming months, here's an EP that should rightfully garner crowds at their shows and earn much radio play and music press attention. 'Hollow' - this EP is anything but!
'Hollow' is available from the 15th October on all the major digital sites.