The debut EP from Oak Hero begins with a 40 second long finger-picking guitar intro before introducing strange, indecipherable vocals that seem to bounce around the air in front of you. The band doesn’t seem to be afraid of attempting something too outlandish on their very first track of their very first EP, a trait that is very rare among most bands today especially because first impressions make all the difference. This experimentation runs throughout the five tracks, though more obvious in some songs more than others.
A vast amount of instruments such as double basses, bongos and mandolins are used and even the band’s vocals are fused beautifully, albeit slightly messily at times. Happily these instruments don’t seem to be used for progressiveness’ sake and are actually used to emphasise the slick songwriting and technical talent of the band members.
The band, from Wester Ross in the Highlands and which consists of Keith Pearce, Charlie Parsons and Cailean Macleod, seem to fuse clean folk with rough alternative rock, but with some strange rhythms which wouldn’t seem out of place on a hip-hop album. They seem to follow closely to Gorillaz in terms of rhythm, though they do not use any electronic instruments and most likely wouldn’t cite them as influences, while their extensive use of acoustic instruments creates a very raw atmosphere.
One of the only dissatisfactions I can find on the record, after scouring it repeatedly, seems to be the song ‘Angel of Mine’. This isn’t a bad song; it just seems to be missing whatever the rest of the tracks have which make them so special. The song slows down the pace of the album immensely, and to its detriment seems to include a much too loud bass line. Gladly this song doesn’t completely undermine the streak of catchy, innovative tracks which surround it and seems to only fade into the background.
Oak Hero is truly a band that needs to be heard before fully understood and although this may be a phrase thrown about too casually; Oak Hero is definitely a band to watch.