London band Civil Villains do things a little differently! From organising their own American tours through to trying to find different ways in promoting their releases and videos, the talented trio operate in a little more of a left-field space to other bands and have a strong DIY ethic to the running of their band. Their music too is different and unique, a melange of jagged guitar riffing, powerhouse rhythm work, forceful vocals mixed with more ethereal touches and softer, quieter passages that makes it hard to pin-point a particular musical category they could fall into - no bad thing! James King's deft guitar work and sonorous vocals are ably backed by the equally versatile rhythm section of Mark Hudson (bass) and Toby Warren (drums) in Civil Villains' eclectic mix of styles and feel. True, the milkman is unlikely to be whistling any of the band's tunes, but it doesn't mean that the songs on 'Motion Sick' aren't engaging and grab your attention - quite the contrary - the album bears repeated plays.
The angular riffs, syncopated rhythms and time changes are all there on lead single 'Mortuary Blue' and 'Bayou Autonomy' which kick off the album (after a short opener 'Funeral Rouge') - a fine start and shows the band's strengths straight away. 'Cornerstore' with its hooky 'Waiting for change at the cornerstore' tag-line (perhaps I was wrong about the milkman!) follows, again another track where the time changes and differing musical passages come thick and fast - a particular fave of mine from the album. The band's ability to handle softer musical themes are shown to great effect in 'Elysium' (think Nirvana's 'Something In The Way') and 'Present Tense' while 'Anaesthesia Whores' keeps the angular moves flowing. Shorter tracks 'Skip Town' and 'Petrichor' (along with opener 'Funeral Rouge') provide musical links to the album's longer, more involved tracks and 'Motion Sick' finishes on a triptych of stunning tracks - 'Nightbloom', 'Cavalier Blonde' and 'Never Leave', containing at various points, fuzzed bass, intricate guitar lines, agile drumming, stomping grooves, hardcore punky moves and in 'Never Leave' a track that builds into a storming crescendo that completes the album.
'Motion Sick' is a terrific album from a band determined to defy categorisation, but yet provide music that aims to engage and captivate. Every corner turned on the album provides something new and intriguing and Civil Villains have managed to roll all their obviously wide-ranging influences into one satisfying whole on an album for them to be proud of. Looking for something a little different? Look no further than this challenging, diverse, exceptional album.
'Motion Sick' is out now and available on all the major digital sites. CD versions can be picked up from the Civil Villains bandcamp site - www.civilvillains.bandcamp.com