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Album Review: Gunning For Tamar - Deaf Cow Motel

Walnut Tree Records, despite its seemingly diminutive stature, is fast becoming home to some of the UK and Europe’s brightest and freshest talent. Having somewhat of a Midas touch, the label’s head Tom Beck, only works with brilliant bands it seems, and par for course, Gunning For Tamar, one of the labels newer acquisitions, are brilliant. ‘Deaf Cow Motel’ is this Oxford based four-piece’s second release proper, but their relative inexperience really doesn’t show. The EP’s four tracks are fluid, professional and display the band’s capability as musicians brilliantly. Sounding like a stoically English Biffy Clyro re-interpreting the soundscapes of Incubus, ‘Deaf Cow Motel’ really is a release to get excited about.

The rhythmic drumming of D’arcy King is infused throughout opening track ‘German Treasure Island’ and gives the track its abounding energy. Akin to something you might hear on a bad techno record at the tracks start, it’s not long before the beats transform into the lifeblood of the track, keeping its flow and allowing the track to twist and turn freely. Like the majority of the EP, the song is huge. Vocalist, Joe Wallis sounds like a more anglicised Brandon Boyd during the opening half of the track, but soon establishes his own unique voice, singing "I’ll wear my chains, if you tie your wings" with a real sense of emotive purpose.

‘German Treasure Island’ is epic and emotive and the perfect opener to the EP. It also flows brilliantly into ‘Running With Scissors,’ the band’s Bloc Party-with-balls track. It sounds so mechanical to start with, conjuring images of heavy machinery and robots, as the guitar struggles with drums, but the track eventually opens up into a broader soundscape, encapsulating the dance beats of its forbearer. The track is massive again with bass and drums combining with devastating effect. Penultimate track, ‘God Made Colours’ represents the EP’s low point, but even this is higher than some bands will ever achieve. More downbeat and gentle than the rest of the EP, the track still displays the characteristic free guitarwork of Wallis and Pollard, and showcases the bands substantial musicianship.

Whereas ‘God Made Colours’ is the EP’s low point, closer ‘Bonfires’ is the undoubted highlight. This is the song that could make Gunning For Tamar. It’s an absolutely massive track, boasting an addictive chorus alongside the band’s trademark depth of musicianship. It creates a sense of emotion in the listener, which is truly felt rather than just absorbed. Lesser songs by bands of a similar ilk have been adopted by the mainstream, so there is no reason why this couldn’t make the crossover.

‘Deaf Cow Motel’ is a triumph. It is able to be catchy and appealing without being predictable, with each track maintaining its ability to move and veer in any direction it wants. It’s refreshing to hear something a little different emerging from the crowd, whilst keeping it’s dignity and not disappearing up it’s own backside. Gunning For Tamar could feasibly explode on the basis of this EP.


'Deaf Cow Motel' by Gunning For Tamar is released on May 30th through Walnut Tree Records.

Gunning For Tamar on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Words by Dan Issitt

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