On Friday night I went to a local event held at my University with guest speakers and as you’ve probably guessed, live music. The performers on the night included an acoustic duo (whose highlight was a fantastic cover The Cranberries’ track Zombie), a very talented female vocalist performing to backing tracks and even a folk collective with flutes, violas and tin whistles as standard. However, it was the last band that really caught my attention: the infectious music of a Southampton-based rock band called Mama Smokes.
The most memorable song from their set was Warpath with its immediate choruses of “Do you see my footprints in the dust that I left behind? And Do you hear my footsteps when you crawl from where you try to hide?” and its flowing guitar leads. Jo Stevens’ vocals on this track are simultaneously powerful and technically brilliant, shown best when she carries the song forward through the stripped down verse sections.
What Did I Expect, like Warpath, channels a rejuvenated version of classic rock, allowing pentatonic riffs to ooze with overdrive, over the top of the solid rhythm marriage of Karik Isichei (bass) and Ross Gordon (drums), who sound like it they been playing together for decades.
Although each track is firmly rooted in rock, the combination of guitarist David Cefai’s flare and Jo Steven’s soulful voice, help to lean the band’s sound towards funk rock. Mama Smokes’ use of pop melodies and calculated grooves remind of a toned down Incubus, or a less frantic Mammal, meaning that it isn’t hard to imagine them fitting into the British summer festival scene.
I don’t normally feature or review local bands, but something about Mama Smokes tells me that you’ll come across them yourselves anyway in the future. So please check them out, enjoy the music on offer and have a happy St. Patrick’s Day.
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