Don’t Call Me Ishmael – ‘The Provincial Athlete Throws A Race’ Single Review

After nearly a year since releasing their debut album, Don’t Call Me Ishmael are back with a brand new single and it’s just blown my socks off.

“Don’t make it too gushing, otherwise people with suspect foul play” warned Gary Wilcox, vocalist, ukulelist and DCMI front man, as he allowed me a first listen of the track, ahead of its release on Friday 11th November. It’s no secret that I’m a friend of Gary’s and that we co-host a local music show on Moorlands Radio, 103.7fm, called The Quiet Revolution every Monday night (plug, plug, plug). It’s also no secret that I’m a very honest person, something Gary knows all too well. Therefore, I’m giving DCMI’s brand new single a very honest review. So here goes.

‘The Provincial Athlete Throws A Race’ is a triumphant and truly spectacular track to soundtrack DCMI’s return. Beginning dark, angry and mysteriously, building through a combined ukulele and electric guitar introduction, it’s already blindingly obvious that the band have built on the sound they produced on tracks such as ‘The Bugler’ from Underdog Songs, their debut album. But at the same time, it’s a different direction for DCMI and one that is both exciting and intriguing, as it really could take them anywhere.

The track itself, as the title suggests, is about an athlete who takes part in fixing a race, because he needs the money to support his family. Wilcox’s detailed lyrics tell all about the poor gentleman, who finds it hard to make the decision whether to take part in the scandal. You’re taken on an emotional rollercoaster, as you find yourself hoping and praying that he doesn’t actually agree to it. SBT’s haunting harmonies provide more tension, whilst JT returns behind the axe to provide guitar accompaniment, albeit with a slightly calmer sound than his usual weighty riffs.

When you pull of these things together, the brass section, bass, drums, underlying ukulele chord progression, that’s when you hear the talent of each person involved. This isn’t just Gary Wilcox and his friends, making music, plucking strings and hoping for the best. This is a band with a talent to be proud of.

‘The Provincial Athlete Throws A Race’ is a real treat of a track. It’s up there with the best releases this year and is by far the strongest single to come from DCMI to date. It’s heartbreaking, thoroughly thought through both lyrically and instrumentally, overflowing with talent and enthusiasm and produced by a quality independent label fronted by the equally excellent, Mr Jack Tasker.

But let’s get back to Gary Wilcox because, after all, Don’t Call Me Ishmael began originally as a solo project, as a side step from his other musical outfit, Wilcox:Hulse. Through his own admission, it is now far from being a solo project, but I don’t think he minds. His enjoyment, passion, dedication and commitment to writing, recording, performing and rehearsing, amongst a busy adult life is commendable. And, although I rarely say nice things to him, he’s a truly talented man and a top friend. That’s about as gushing as it’s going to get.

E.

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