Record Overplayed
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Stem. | CD review | 2004

STEM. - Any Old Iron? EP

Review by Dawn


Guitar-led four-piece Stem. hail from Reading, apparently the home of "biscuits, booze and (light) bulbs". If there's any justice in the world, a future addition to that alliterative list will be "bewitchingly brilliant bands".

Sounding something like Robert Smith would if he were to sing with a Berkshire accent, frontman Rob Richardson has been blessed with one of those voices you'd pay money to hear sing the contents of the Royals' matchday programme; a voice so delicious that it takes a while to notice when he's actually singing slightly less charming words like "I'm cutting off your ears."

The appeal of first track Kar Ceys lies in its driving rhythm and unusual mid-song tempo changes while second song Words Rhyme For Reason is simple yet spellbinding with haunting instrumentation and brilliantly intriguing lines like "broken trains are fixed with glue" made increasingly emotive by Richardson's appealing vocal style.

Meanwhile, with its quirky lyrics and Brendan Benson-style rhymes sung in a distinctive accent, Ice Cap Zone sounds not entirely dissimilar to I Am Kloot, although here the overall sound is much fuller and Richardson's voice is far easier on the ear than Johnny Bramwell's can be after a while.

Having received rave reviews for their live shows thus far, Stem. hope to gig extensively in the near future. On this evidence, they'll be well worth checking out. In the words of a certain old song, talk about a treat...

Visit www.Stemfiction.com for more.

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