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Music review: John Knox Sex Club

Deborah McArthur reviews the John Knox Sex Club at Stereo, Glasgow.

The John Knox Sex Club (JKSC) - great band name! It made me think of grungy rock Pete Docherty types, but I was so wrong. Yes, JKSC are rocky at times but they have so much more to offer than thrashing around a stage in a cool or uncool drunken haze - for the record I think Pete Docherty is pretty cool at times, but I digress. JKSC’s music has so much more depth and meaning to it. The gig at Stereo in Glasgow was to launch their new album ‘Raise Ravens’ and they came highly recommended to me by a friend, so of course I had to go and check them out.

The gig started strong. The band took to the stage and instantly demanded silence with their haunting violins and folk vocals. I was intrigued as their sound took me by surprise. They are very together, cohesive and have a definite individual style and sound. The violin gives their tracks a different dimension; the change in atmosphere within one track is beautiful. They go from heavy rock to very soft folk which compliment one another really well and that is a credit to the band for the mature construction of their songs. When the band was up on stage I was completely engaged; watching and listening intently. At times some of their music comes across as slightly preachy and often felt almost too big for the venue (I could see them playing a much larger stage without any problem as they had that epic sound that bands like Muse and Biffy Clyro create), especially when the lead singer got off stage and started singing in people’s faces. I felt as though the music was being forced upon us and it made me feel a little uncomfortable. I stopped listening to the music and started to worry if he would make his way toward me.

My favourite song of the evening was ‘In the Ditch’. The build within the song when the drums and violin comes in made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This build in the music is definitely enhanced through live play as I found out when I got home and went on to the JKSC website and listened to the track again. I still think it is a brilliant track but the live experience of it was magical. I like that they surprised me with their style and they clearly have a following with members of the crowd joining in with the last song of their set.

On my way out I did purchase ‘Raise Ravens’ and it’s really nicely put together, interesting packaging and illustrations, well worth the £7. In this digital world we live in, I miss a good album cover that you can hold, read and enjoy. I have been listening to the album again today and the more I listen to it the more I hear within it. Definitely a grower, as I delve more and more into the multi layered tracks. I think I have only just scratched the surface with these guys and would go and see them again.

Tags: music

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