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Album Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks – The Last Place You’ll Look EP

By on Friday, 19th March 2010 at 12:00 pm

From accounts I’ve heard so far, We Were Promised Jetpacks have been wowing audiences across North America on their latest tour, which just wrapped up on 15 March. And at these shows, singer Adam Thompson has been referring to “our new EP” which is called ‘The Last Place You’ll Look’ and will be released digitally in the UK on 12 April. I’ve seen the Scottish quartet twice now and really love the immediacy of their debut album, ‘These Four Walls’. So I’ve been itching to get my hands on their new material.

‘A Far Cry’, the first song on the new EP, sounds like the Jetpacks’s “going to war” song. Darren Lackie’s drumming on the song should bring everyone to attention. The spare guitars from Thompson, guitarist Michael Palmer and bassist Sean Smith in the lyric-less ‘The Walls are Wearing Thin’ are proof that these Scots are technically dextrous with their instruments. They put in good effort with ‘With the Benefit of Hindsight’; the only problem with the track is that in the joy of putting horns with their usual backing, Thompson’s vocals are muddled and lost in the mix. For me, his powerful vocals are a central source of power in the band’s songs, so it’s the one disappointment I have with this EP.

Two of the songs should be familiar to WWPJ fans: for this EP, ‘Short Bursts’ and ‘This is My House, This is My Home’ have been reworked and give way to amazing results. An uncle of mine once asked me what they sounded like, and at a loss of how to describe their hard-hitting live sound I said, vaguely, “uh…punk? Rock-ish?” But you’d never think of these songs as punk. The re-do of ‘Short Bursts’ is less raw, warmer. And the new version of ‘This is My House…’ is slowed down, with added strings and Thompson’s emotional Scottish brogue coming together to feel like your mother wrapping you in a warm blanket. Lovely. While this EP is a good stop-gap between albums, it’s made me look forward to their sophomore effort and hope that they’ll be able to take the maturity evidenced in this EP and combine it winningly with the ‘These Four Walls’ laddishness.

As alluded to in my Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel gig review last month, I couldn’t buy this EP at the show because the merchandise table had disappeared from its post before I could get over there. And I’ve found out why I couldn’t find information on the physical release of the new EP: the physical format will only be available at their shows this year, so word to the wise: if you’re like me and prefer physical CDs, be sure to see them live and buy this great EP in person.


We Were Promised Jetpacks’s new EP, ‘The Last Place You’ll Look’, will be released digitally by Fat Cat Records on 12 April and can be pre-ordered now. The physical format of the EP will be available exclusively at the band’s live shows this year.


Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Typefighter and Bad Veins at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13 February 2010

By on Tuesday, 16th February 2010 at 2:00 pm

After the La Roux show scheduled for last Wednesday (10 February) was postponed to 25 July due to the latest round of snow here, I was so worried about the We Were Promised Jetpacks boys making it safely to the States that I sent them a Tweet to check on them. Wednesday night they Tweeted me back from New York with the following exultant message: “don’t worry, we made it in yesterday!” Single gals like me wince just thinking about Valentine’s Day. This year however I was really, really chuffed because I knew I’d forget all about this when captivated by the Scottish rockers the night before V-Day, rocking out to their tunes at a sold-out show at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast. They’d played an opening slot here last October with comparatively older veterans of the music scene, Fat Cat labelmates Brakes and the Twilight Sad. But Saturday night, the Jetpacks were headlining.

First up on the night were Typefighter, a local Washington folk/pop quintet that looked and sounded oddly like Fanfarlo. This description is not intended to be a dig at either band; I just thought it was eerie for two bands to be playing such similar music, with four guys and a girl multi-instrumentalist / backing vocalist, having been put together separately but divided by an ocean. Speaking of oceans, Typefighter enjoys singing about them, as evidenced by the song ‘Ocean Floor’. Another great song is ‘Worth the Wait’, featuring the banjo and lead singer Ryan McLaughlin‘s twangy, countrified, folky voice. Given the popularity of Fanfarlo, Mumford and Sons and Noah and the Whale, I imagine they would do extremely well in Britain. They’re currently unsigned but I imagine with their promising talent, they’ll be scooped up soon.

Bad Veins, a duo from Cincinnati, Ohio, played second. I’ve seen some duos at the RnR come up with some ingenious solutions to only having two members. In Bad Veins’s case, they employ a third “member”, an antiquated reel-to-reel tape player they’ve christened ‘Irene’, and Irene comes through with orchestration that would of course be impossible with just two humans. And as if having Irene wasn’t enough, singer Benjamin Davis also employs a telephone setup, so he can sing into the receiver and the resulting sound is just like you’d imagine someone singing to you down a telephone line. The backbeats are courtesy of drummer Sebastian Schulz, whose driving rhythms along with Davis’s vocals and guitar combine to make some great sounding rock. I thought hard about how to describe what they sound like – the drumming is as manic as Keith Moon’s in the Who, but Davis’s vocals on top can be angsty as Glasvegas’s James Allan but can sometimes be shouty.

Half past 11, so that meant it was finally time for We Were Promised Jetpacks, the band I had come all this way to see. I was bouncing off the walls the day in December when their first North American tour was announced. The band is so powerful instrumentally live and lead singer/guitarist Adam Thompson‘s vocals are so cutting that this is not a band you can watch and simply sit and stare. There is something so incredibly liberating to singing along to ‘Quiet Little Voices’ playing in your bedroom. But it’s incomparable to the effect of the “oh oh ohs!“, multiplying the feeling a couple thousand times when you’re stood in front of Thompson, singing along with him and the other similar-minded fans squeezed into a tiny club like the RnR. Fantastic.

While stage banter is not the band’s forte, Thompson thanked the appreciative crowd for their applause between songs, and he must not have forgotten being mocked in October for being from Scotland (an audience member then equating Scotland as if being out in the wilderness with no running water) because when asked to tell a Scottish joke, he responded good-naturely with a wry smile, “a Scottish joke? Fuck off!” This of course caused everyone in the club to laugh.

But we weren’t there to laugh, we were there to be rocked by the Jetpacks. The band powered through 10 songs, with ‘It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning’ and ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ being major highlights for me. The set also included two new ones that might be on a new EP, but I can’t tell you for sure because it’s not on Fat Cat Records’s Web site yet, and the merch table was gone by the time the show was over and I couldn’t find any of the band to ask them about the new release. (The disappearing merch table is one of the few complaints I have about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, as I couldn’t get Miike Snow merch last September there either.) In short: it may have been Valentine’s Day, but thanks to this amazing show, I walked out into the cold Washington night with a spring in my step.

After the cut: photos and set list.

Continue reading Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Typefighter and Bad Veins at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13 February 2010


Bands to Watch #128: We Were Promised Jetpacks

By on Thursday, 27th August 2009 at 12:00 pm

We Were Promised Jetpacks is an indie rock band originally from Edinburgh but who now called Glasgow home. They were discovered by Brighton’s Fat Cat Records by simply being on the MySpace friends list of Frightened Rabbit – apparently the label had a listen of some of FR’s friends and the rest, as they say, is history. (And I thought I was the only one who trawled MySpace doing this!)

My knowledge of Scottish bands is spotty at best, so do forgive me if you disagree with my assessment that We Were Promised Jetpacks sound like early Franz Ferdinand records like ‘Take Me Out’ – back when skinny Alex Kapranos was still shouting out of the side of his mouth and jumping all over the place.

My ears have been occupied for almost a year with all the new electro upstarts who make music specially designed for the dance floor, so it’s nice to hear some jangly guitars with thoughtful lyrics. I haven’t felt this way since I first heard Dirty Pretty Things (RIP) in the summer of 2006 (fearless rock ‘n’ roll isn’t usually my bag), so that’s saying something. It’s raw, unbridled rock. Remember when Damon Albarn of Blur in ‘Song 2’ shouted, “I got my head checked / by a jumbo jet“? Yeah, it feels something like that. But in a good, satisfying way, like when your gran thwaps you good-naturely in the back of the head for saying something stupid.

In advance of the release of their debut album, ‘These Four Walls’, in late June, We Were Promised Jetpacks had already released two cool videos on Fat Cat Records’ YouTube channel, including the one for ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ that you can watch below. I think it’s fab. I hear a lot of promise in them.


We Were Promised Jetpacks will be touring America with the Twilight Sad and Brakes before returning for a month-long tour of the UK.


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