Sound: The Renegades are a side project from British Rockers Feeder and returns them to their musical roots. The Renegades consist of frontman Grant Nicholas, Bassist Taka Hirose and taking over drumming duties from Mark Richardson after he left to rejoin his old band Skunk Anansie is Karl Brazil. This side project has so far consisted of two small tours taking in some small venues from when they first started such as Monto Water Rats in London and The Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth and 2 four track EPs generally bundled with the tickets for the gigs. This review will cover the new tracks of these EPs.
EP1 Track Listing
1 - Renegades
2 - Sentimental
3 - Time Goes By
4 - Barking Dogs
EP2 Track Listing
1 - Home
2 - Godhead
3 - In Times of Crisis
4 - All I Ever Wanted
The first EP kicks off with 'Renegades', a high tempo crowd pleaser which shows off Karl Brazils feats as a drummer who likes to hit his skins hard. There is also a constant ascending sound to the guitar in the pre chorus and chorus giving a feeling of the song always leading up to something before settling back down to the driving verse. This was definitely a song designed for the gigs which did not disappoint with a soaring chorus and almost relentless tempo. This is kept up during second song 'Sentimental' with crunching guitars which is very reminiscent of earlier songs from the 'Swim' and 'Polythene' albums. 'Time Goes By' Slows things down slightly with more emphasis on the lyrics and is, out of all the songs, the weakest, but still a definite hit. The first EP is then rounded off by 'Barking Dogs', which, as you can probably tell just from the title is pure madness. It is only 2 minutes long but there is not a single moment where it lets up and this is why it was also used as their first song at the gigs. Simplicity is the key to this song with a simple structure which is even simpler to play but with everything coming together in one big smashing sound that comes in, throws up a storm and then abruptly ends after just 2 minutes and 4 seconds.
EP2 should kick off with 'Godhead' according to the track listing on the back but this soon turned out to actually be an error and 'Home' is in fact the lead track. 'Home' is another fast paced song and certainly one that doesn't take itself too seriously lyrically. From the pace of the verse one would expect a massive crashing chorus but instead it slows down and focusses on the lyrics of Grant Nicholas and a sound which reminds me of 'We Are The People' from the 'Silent Cry' album. 'Godhead' follows this with heavy distortion counter balanced with Grants very pure voice sounding tortured. The best way to describe this song is quite simply as loud, even if played quietly this song is loud. 'In Times of Crisis' jumps back the other way with a song reminiscent of the recent 'Tracing Lines' rather than anything older but with no real obvious leap between sections of Verse, Chorus and bridge, the song just keeps going without a breath. All I ever wanted is immediately recognisable as something from the early days of Feeder with the lyrics hidden behind a layer of distortion and heavy but slow guitar riffs driving over the top. It almost sounds menacing during the pre verse sections with the use of reverb effects. // 9
Lyrics: These EPs definitely have a sense of stepping away from the intensely thought provoking lyrics of albums such as 'Comfort in Sound' and 'Pushing the Senses' and more on focussing on the rocky sound of their early albums. This doesn't mean that Grant Nicholas has lost any of his abilities as an incredible singer songwriter, with lead track 'Renegades' one of those anthemic songs in a similar vein to 'We Are The People' with lyrics like 'Cos they say, Things are much better than, we know, we are not the problem' which are just begging to be sung at the top of everyones voice. You can also tell the definite switch of focus to the fans rather than radio play, with an increased use of shout outs that are intended to be screamed out by the audience such as, again in the song 'Renegades' in between lines 'Hey, Hey' is shouted by bassist Taka and also in the song 'Sentimental' with the use of 'Woohoos'. Although I said that the focus appears to have switched away from the lyrics they are still used to great effect and require a few listens to grab the full meanings behind them, such as in 'Time Goes By' where Grant sings 'When we're together, Time goes by so easily'. From EP2 a stand out track lyrically is 'In Times of Crisis' which is less sung and more spoken to the listener (especially during the verses) which is quite a different approach to what is usually taken by these guys. Overall I think that the lyrics have been given slightly less attention than the music itself and it's very different from recent Feeder albums but has a very distinct sound delivered absolutely pitch perfectly by Grant Nicholas yet again. // 8
Overall Impression: All in all the EPs have very much achieved the goal of going back to their heavier roots especially in tracks 'Godhead' and 'All I Ever Wanted' but they are definitely not just 'Swim' and 'Polythene' with a fresh coat of paint, these tracks show a more grown up version of the early Feeder with a high attention to detail going into every note and every word. It is an incredible re-introduction to what Feeder truly are and that is a rock band and although this technically isn't Feeder the name change is merely aesthetic and definitely has that classic Feeder sound drenched throughout with the best of everything they've ever done chucked into one. Stand out tracks include 'Renegades', 'In Times of Crisis' and 'Barking Dogs' but there quite simply isn't one in there that isn't fantastic in its own way. A terrific set of songs that show that this band that have been going for more than 15 years still have plenty of fresh ideas that is heavily lacking in the current super safe and super cautious music industry. // 9