Header image is Whiskey and The Wilsons

Words from Yolanda Leask

There’s nothing like an alliterative name to stick in your head but Whiskey and the Wilsons’ thumping rhythms and innate musicality ensure that their sound is equally as memorable. A tight trio composed of guitar-playing vocalist Alfred Overy, percussionist Chris Chamberlain and keyboardist Joe Wilson (whose striking illustrations you may have seen used by Adidas, Big Chill Festival and The Guardian), they prove that three is indeed the magic number.

Their songs hint at a broad knowledge and appreciation of musical traditions, implying that the band are still exploring their own sense of style. The music is certainly reminiscent of other artists, giving it a sense of familiarity on first listen, although simultaneously a definite emerging theme permeates each tune which could be their signature. Whiskey and the Wilsons are rhythmically inventive, using experimental and unusual time signatures. They play around; each song has a new, unpredictable beat to keep the listener on their toes. Dynamic and surprising twists progressively build throughout: the songs are well structured in an innovative, non-generic way.

They look cohesive as a group, but are clearly independent individuals harmoniously in tune with one other. This is apparent aurally from the balance achieved, comfortably and confidently shifting the prominence from one musician to another whilst ensuring an even overall effect. With a clear understanding of one another’s capabilities, each band member is able to showcase their talent without overwhelming the rest. Ending on a drum solo makes a refreshing change from the norm. At points the vocals are hard to pick out, but this doesn’t detract greatly, again the changing focus of instrumentation makes it appear natural and considered. They perform with a controlled power, revving up the packed bar and maintaining an upbeat, charged atmosphere. Contrary to their lyric “too sharp for our own good,” Whiskey and the Wilsons obviously know just how to handle a sharp instrument.

Joe Boyd and the Loop’s ensuing set was rather more eclectic. Jumping from insistent slap bass and tongue-twister rapping to stunted, simplistic chord patterns coupled with a predictably Americanised drawl, they are in the midst of an obvious identity crisis. It is clear that both bands have similar influences, drawing from American soul/blues tradition in the same manner as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, The White Stripes, hence I can understand the evening’s programming. However if the running order directly correlates with amount of potential, V Bar’s proprietors were right to put Whiskey and the Wilsons first.