While the rest of us were spending those days immediately before Christmas anxiously concocting plans to avoid watching the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special with the family on Christmas Evening, Huddersfield’s The Pencil Necks dropped a class EP onto an unsuspecting public.
EP Amberleafable offers 11 minutes of undiluted pleasure and raw talent over three songs, and mark The Pencil Necks out as a fresh, edgy young band with a whole heap of potential. Lead singer Crack Sparrow (I’m guessing it’s not a birth name – Harrison Wilkinson is perhaps a more likely moniker) has a very pleasing growl in his voice; he rather reminds me of Ben Ottewell of Gomez, or perhaps legend Shane MacGowan. Wilkinson also adds acoustic guitar and to complete the team James Dobson plays drums, Jonny Eastwood is on guitar, and Ben Stonely on bass.
H2N recently caught the band live at the Parish Pump supporting the mighty Able’s Army and Mathatma Raindrop. The music was a little loose, but the Pencil Necks soon got a good and cool beat and a sound that reminded me somewhat of a mix between The Pogues and Nirvana. Live Harrison Wilkinson was sporting scruff and a bleached blond look and his stage presence had a certain wild vulnerability that reminded me somewhat of Cobain also. I was concerned for Wilkinson’s vocal delivery at times (in case that growly bark was doing his vocal chords some damage) but overall the band has a good and healthily raw sound. Music has to be all about fun and the Pencil Necks clearly do fun very well with the main man’s energy seemingly inexhaustible and with the other lads in the band no slouches in his slipstream.
Ameberleafable EP opener End of Days has a great relaxed and loose beat; it rather reminds me of a lively and biting bluesy Counting Crows track. Harrison Wilkinson is in fine voice on this one, and the backing (even the cod reggae moment) suits the song well. I don’t think anyone would describe this song in terms of technical excellence, but it hangs together really well, and well, it totally rawks. Next up is That Way with its smoky, whiskey filled vocal and gently rolling and solid backing. This is a quieter song, but it still packs a punch with a stirring chorus and guitar solo. It reminds me a little of a quieter Nirvana release. The last song is an acoustic live track, Little Miss Placer, and it’s good to hear variety on the EP, as it takes the pitch down a further notch to gentle pitch. Wilkinson is in sweet voice on this one, although some of the lyrics seem a little indistinct (the victim of a one take perhaps).
Overall, it seems there’s plenty left in the tank for The Pencil Necks and they can only grow and develop as time moves forward. I am totally sold that the Pencil Necks have already carved out a varied and diverse sound and I’ll certainly be looking out for more from them during 2018.
Go and do yourself a favour and check out the Pencil Necks EP Amberleafable at Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/thepencilnecks