Gavin Chappell Bates - Black Holes ep
(Big Badger Recordings through R*E*P*E*A*T)

The lead track on Gavin’s debut single kicks off with a leisurely but insistent bass line that could be Kim Deal if you weren’t to know. Once Gavin and the band kick in not long after, it becomes apparent that he’s influenced greatly by 90’s-era music. The loud-quiet-loud dynamics of ‘Black Holes’ borrows from the classic Pixies template, but the song itself is stately and measured in a way that reminds of Manic Street Preachers.


In fact the set of songs taken as a whole reveal an approach that the Manics themselves took on their ‘Everything Must Go’ album, a balancing act between blazing hard rock and pastoral acoustic rock. You can almost hear the parallels in production between second track ‘Follow The Light’ and something like ‘Enola/Alone’ or the graceful string section on the last track ’Writing In The Sand’ and the epic ‘A Design For Life’.

Gavin’s vocals are in the mid-high range and this really benefits the arrangements on each song – they really cut through. The timbre of his voice though is fragile and emotive, and it’s rare to hear this style of singing on punchier tracks like the first two on the disc. But it really works, bringing restraint into the mix too.

With solo artists, songs often sound as though arrangements have been retro-fitted in the studio. Interestingly, the first two songs here have a group feel regardless of whether they’ve been multi-tracked or recorded live and this is perhaps indicative of ego-less craftsmanship.

‘Singer-songwriter’ is a tag that is nowadays loaded with (sometimes understandable) pre-conceptions of indulgence and self-involvement. Gavin has proven that wrong, with songs and performances that display the potential for an exciting full-length album.


Hear all the ep and buy it here