When John MacLeod asked me if I wanted to be involved in Attack Of The Vapours’ brand new EP, I felt both honoured and excited. Walking into the studio to add several layers of choir-like vocal harmonies to one of the tracks, I quickly realised I had become a “vapour”. AOTV is a musical project fronted by MacLeod, with several other instrumentalists forming the rest of the line up, meaning that, without even realising it, I was now a tiny piece of this band and its record.
‘Here Comes The Brim’ is a collection of five of the finest tracks I’ve ever heard MacLeod produce. Quite clearly they’ve been considered thoroughly, from the things he wanted to say to the musicians he wanted to use to bring it all to life.
Opening with the aptly named ‘I’ve Still Got Your Blood On My Curtains’, ‘Here Comes The Brim’ has already taken a step in the right direction. Complete with a wah wah-ing guitar intro from The Taskers very own Jack Tasker and a smooth underlying bass line from Gary Abbott, ‘I’ve Still Got Your Blood On My Curtains’ is a raging track filled with anger and emotion, fresh from MacLeod’s soul. It’s a track that will probably make you feel slightly nervous when you’re next alone with him; a feeling that is definitely not helped by the humorous scream of “hold still!” which features part of the way through the guitar solo. It will definitely have you rocking out when you’re on the bus, in your kitchen or wherever you usually listen to morbid murderous rock songs.
‘Misfitz’ is real rock built around the electric guitar, which stands tall in the spotlight whilst everything else flows alongside it. It emits a very dark sound, with the guitar toing and froing in such a way that builds tension and excitement in equal amounts. Once again, JT must be complimented on his ability to completely transform a track, with his talent and adoration for making quality music. Comparing this track to its original form – the version I heard when I was given an advance preview a few months back – it really is a credit to both MacLeod and Tasker, a pairing that seems to work together magnificently.
Another song that’s shape-shifted through the addition of JT’s dirty guitar is ‘Brain Shocks’. MacLeod’s vocals sound especially haunting here, with added backing vocals from Gary Wilcox and Sarah Brennan giving the whole track a very unsettled feel. Tension building drums from Romas Masteika continue to build on this and ‘Misfitz’ sits comfortably in the middle of the ‘Here Comes The Brim” sandwich.
The penultimate track is the extremely jazzy and slightly random ‘An Apology From A Distance (Puppykicker)’. It’s random in the sense that it’s entirely different from any of the other tracks on the EP and feels more like a B-side than a fourth track. However random and sporadic it may seem, ‘Puppykicker’ is possibly my favourite track simply because of its outstanding piano accompaniment from Charlie Ormrod. It displays a whole new side to MacLeod, demonstrating his ability to adapt and change to suit a plethora of genres. Jazz is by no means an easy genre to master, especially when you’ve written an EP that is relatively rocky, but something tells me that MacLeod accidentally fell into it whilst attempting to write real honest music.
Finishing up the EP is a track that has had its title shorted, because everyone has gotten tired of reciting it. ‘What You’ve Lost In Job Satisfaction, You’ve Gained In Meaningless Aphorisms’ is a powerful song to say the least. It’s a slow builder, taking small steps towards its hair raising ending (more on that later). Each new verse is like a musical steroid injection, jabbing ‘Job Satisfaction’ with as much “oomph” as possible, before rocketing skywards in the final few minutes taking everything with it. All of a sudden, you’re sky high with MacLeod and his “Nail-Voiced Choir” featuring myself, Wilcox and Brennan, floating around in a never-ending haze of accapella goodness. It’s hard to believe that four people can create a sound so godlike and mind-blowing, but having being present in the room as it was recorded, I can tell you that it really can and really did happen.
John MacLeod can now sit back and relax. His current venture as Attack Of The Vapours is an obvious success and judging by the aftermath of the ‘Here Comes The Brim’ launch gig, I’m not the only one that believes that this EP is outstanding. Attack Of The Vapours have taken a major step forward and only time will tell where this path will take them.