Originating from Hyde Park, Leeds, The Strawberries are quickly establishing themselves as a prominent fixture in northern indie music, injecting a strangely absent dose of traditional rock ‘n’ roll into a scene which is becoming hegemonized by inoffensive, clean-cut indie tunes and contrasting, abrasive punk numbers.
Without sounding like too much of an avid fan, their music is really a breath of fresh air, yet it peculiarly doesn’t push any boundaries – not that there’s anything wrong with that, quite the opposite really. As I’ve said when previously reviewing Moon Sugar’s ‘I Wanna Feel’, this is a much-welcomed revitalisation of a sub-genre which has seemingly disappeared from the local radar: When in doubt, some psych-laced rock will do the trick.
So, who are The Strawberries then? Aside from sharing the name with a currently in-season accessory fruit, (cheers Wikipedia), the Leeds quartet are comprised of Sam Neil (Vocals and Guitar), Joe Dines (Guitar), Ethan Sherwin (Bass and Vocals) and Ben Heath (Drums). They’re currently gaining a reputation for their polished tracks and lovely artwork; reminiscent of the Pretty Green x Jimi Hendrix collection, their single covers of ‘Caramel Eyes’ and ‘Laburnum House’ hark back to the works of psychedelic rock pioneers. The names of their tunes are pretty top too, although I feel that this is a tad more subjective…
Unlike many new artists, The Strawberries have certainly found their sound, and seem intent on cementing it as their own. A previous single which hooked me in, entitled ‘Fantasy Machine’, is an apt precursor of what to expect from their work. Inoffensive yet lucid chords are played away, as effects are gradually layered on, and whining solos and fills become more and more prominent. Sam’s vocals bring a classic-sounding tune into the modern day, his voice reminiscent of more contemporary artists like Miles Kane. By the standard established by their previous, albeit small body of work, ‘She Rhymes to Get Away’ is a fairly sedated tune. That’s not to say that the track never gets going, because as a somewhat chilled song focused on escapism, its catchy lyrics and melody are more than enough to ensnare the listener and keep them hooked until the song fades away. The lyrics and guitars bring the work into modern age, dusting off traditional bangers and reworking them.
That’s one issue with reviewing a single such as this: While other bands may allude to more modern artists, say Oasis, Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys, these allusions to psychedelic legends are way before my time, and I feel ill-prepared in passing judgement on such a significant genre without some minimal contextual knowledge. Then again, I like to think I can recognise a solid, decent tune on its own merit. And a decent tune this certainly is.