(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #291: Holy Esque

By on Thursday, 6th February 2014 at 1:00 pm

Some bands hit you with their driving guitar, others are piano driven, still more are pure synth. For me, a band’s appeal hinges quite solidly on the voice. Some bands of questionable musicianship have appealed to me simply for the compelling lead singer. Other bands can have blindingly good music and the vocals just turn me off. (Dare I admit to not liking alt-J?) Glaswegians Holy Esque have a particularly identifiable voice leading their sound and I can’t quite tell if I like it or not.

Pat Hynes’ heavy vibrato wrangles above the rapid fire drumming and ringing guitars giving it an otherworldly feel. It tints the tone of all they produce, driving the lyrics to a strange and mysterious place, irrespective of the actual sentiment in the song. This continual quavering is the natural way he sings and not an affectation to add interest, so it permeates every song. That’s fine, but it still sounds quite unusual. However, they are not without supporters in high places, with both NME and Huw Stephens have given them the nod.

Teaser track ‘Silences’, taken from their yet-to-be-named debut album, premiered just 3 weeks ago and opens with a supremely catchy riff. Less ‘goat-like’ than the songs on the EP, I like this song better than those earlier ones. It’s got a thick wall of guitar, punctuated by Hynes’ distinct vocals that are tempered a bit. The intensity of this track supports my idea that this band should have an ardent following passionately devoted to their rather unique sound.

After a string of successful dates last year, including the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury and The Great Escape, Holy Esque heads back to SXSW for the second year in a row. Their self-titled EP is now available and gives a glimpse into what they are about. It is left to be seen what the full length album will bring.

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[…] They’ll be showcasing at this year’s SXSW, and for more, read Cheryl’s Bands to Watch feature on them here. […]

[…] Cheryl wrote a Bands to Watch on them, and you can read the feature here. […]

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