Friday, 15 January 2016

Niche - "Heading East" (Album Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/11/2015
Label: Retro Futurist




In spirit Niche is heavy but in practice they know how to apply heavy. This means that they have this tool on hand but don’t always need it. So “Heading East” is slick without drifting too far from the raw attack they delivered in 2013. Even when Niche dips in and out of urgent rhythms, they do this with a level of finesse that pushes the lush harmonies to the surface rather than diving into a riff-fiesta.

“Heading East” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Exiled To Islands
2. When I’m Gone
3. On Down The Line
4. Dear Sweet Anne
5. Tough And Mean
6. Days To Come

The Review:

Two years ago, Savannah’s Niche brought out “The Other Side of the End.” As an album, it was a great testament that Niche knew how to party. It made good times course through the veins of the riotous rock n’ rollers, rendering everyone black out drunk and without regret by sunrise. Niche now has a new album out, “Heading East,” and though it’s a totally different party, it’s still a get together you’ll want to be invited to.

With such an anthemic reprise that “Exiled to Islandsboasts, there’s no way it wasn’t going to open the album. This fact is solidified by how the acoustic intro feeds into the rest of the song by way of vocal harmonies, which is one of Niche’s best strengths. “When I’m Gone” follows this, serving as Side A’s focal point by way of jumpy guitar riffs that play host to the verses and the organ-led chorus. And to think, Niche hasn’t even pulled out all the stops during the song’s 8:30 run time. What the band continues to lay down is a series of busy guitar solos that flail around while even busier drumming sets a subtly fast pace for this whole parade to march to.

Side B’s centerpiece is “Days to Come” in which the album’s title is sung to a choir of “ooh”s and “aaah”s. Its moments like these that Niche steps away from their shameless Thin Lizzy worship and show that they also dig 60s psychedelia. And though these two cuts are the album’s highlights, there’s still plenty of gravy left. “On Down the Line” is a jam that pushes everyones skills to the surface while “Tough and Mean” is a steady riff show of top-notch song writing. Great lyrics, too. The weakest track here is “Sweet Dear Anne,” but if the listener allows the smooth guitar to sink in and notice the talent behind the skins, then the song loses a lot of its sappiness.

In spirit Niche is heavy but in practice they know how to apply heavy. This means that they have this tool on hand but don’t always need it. So “Heading East” is slick without drifting too far from the raw attack they delivered in 2013. Even when Niche dips in and out of urgent rhythms, they do this with a level of finesse that pushes the lush harmonies to the surface rather than diving into a riff-fiesta. This tradeoff makes the album a unique listening experience, especially when compared to the riff worshipping we spend most of our time listening to.


“Heading East” is available here

Band info: facebook

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