The Xcerts
Scatterbrain


3.5
great

Review

by xecutioner USER (5 Reviews)
October 16th, 2010 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A good effort, but they aren't there yet...

The Xcerts:

Murray Macleod – Guitar/Vocals
Jordan Smith – Bass
Tom Heron – Drums

The Xcerts are a promising new indie band from Aberdeen. Since their formation in 2001, they have been making music that they describe as ‘distorted pop’ – a kind of music that blends the fun sound of mainstream indie with the crunch of heavier rock.

Their 2010 album, Scatterbrain, seamlessly plugs of the gap between faceless indie pop and carefree, edgy alt rock. This is perhaps best demonstrated by infectious yet frantic guitarwork of the lead single Slackerpop, and the atmospheric excess of the title track, Scatterbrain. While both songs are typically what you would expect from a band trying to appeal to a wide fanbase, it would be a mistake to say that The Xcerts’ only merit lies in having an ear for a catchy tune – there is enough quality and variation in the songwriting to mean that the disc is good for more than one spin, and the band remains credible enough for the most part to be more than just a guilty pleasure. The credit for this undoubtedly goes to guitarist Murray Macleod, whose trademark guitarwork makes for the hook filled yet pleasantly heavy listening experience found in songs like Carnival Time or Hurt With Me. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of his playing is the ability to weave soft chords and leads into his rhythm playing to create a satisfyingly full sound, which is often a challenge for bands with no second guitarist. This edge is reinforced by his passionate, accented vocal delivery which owes as much to Brand New as it sounds like Biffy Clyro. Nevertheless, he proves to be a versatile vocalist, making use of screams and effects to add to the band’s heavier moments while retaining the influence of chart indie in his voice. This is best shown in the melancholic Distant Memory which contains several long, soft passages, allowing crooning to take precedence over the distorted screams of other songs.

Unfortunately the vocal style is not is not the only comparison to Brand New that can be made– one major criticism of the album is that many of the songs sound like they could reasonably have been b-sides from the Daisy sessions – highlighting the band’s inability to merge their influences into a unique sound. This is perhaps most obvious in songs like Scatterbrain and He Sinks, He Sleeps - he could easily be mistaken for a Scottish Jessie Lacey in either.

Similarly, the bass playing of Jordan Smith follows this pattern. His use of overdrive at times lends a heavy nod to Brand New’s sound which does nothing to differentiate The Xcerts from their competition. It would good to hear him take the lead, as he does in Gum, which would add an extra dimension to the band’s overall sound. On the contrary, drummer Tom Heron’s contribution is powerful but dancey, reinforcing the band’s indie roots but emphasising a considerable rock influence, and perhaps should gain far more recognition for his work in the band than he does at present.

This album is remarkable in the way it manages to retain both a pop and heavy rock influence without compromising the positive aspects of either sound. As such it is a good album, showcasing an able band with plenty of potential. However this is all. The band has yet to carve themselves a niche (which doesn’t sound like Brand New) which will allow them to become more than just ‘promising youngersters.’

The Xcerts’ Scatterbrain – 3.5/5

Standout Tracks - Slackerpop, Carnival Time, Lament.


user ratings (30)
Chart.
3.7
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
bodiesinflight57
October 17th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Not a bad review but it's miles better than what the review says (i.e. better than Daisy)

bodiesinflight57
October 17th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also, it is 'Distant Memory' not 'Distant Memories' and for some reason there are now two pages for this record.



And Murray's name is Murray Macleod not Mcleod.





xecutioner
October 18th 2010


73 Comments


this album wants to be daisy, it't nowhere near as good as daisy. nevertheless, its a decent effort from a fairly new band with plenty of potential.

bodiesinflight57
October 18th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you mean:



this album is miles better than daisy. brand new made a decent effort but the songs just aren't as good.

xecutioner
October 18th 2010


73 Comments


nope. i meant what i typed the first time.

bodiesinflight57
October 19th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I know, it was just a dry way of expressing my own opinion about the album

xecutioner
October 19th 2010


73 Comments


*I know, it was just a pretty shit way of expressing my opinion

bodiesinflight57
October 20th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

no need to be a dick

xecutioner
October 20th 2010


73 Comments


rofl

bodiesinflight57
October 21st 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

roflcopter you mean surely. internet is srs bsns my friend

ConsiderPhlebas
October 22nd 2010


6157 Comments


Album is ace. Can definately hear the Brand New influence but they pull it off.

theusual1
December 16th 2010


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm really loving this album right now. The daisy influence is clear but if i'm honest i would say this i prefer this album to daisy atm. This might change once i've listened to it a few more times. Brand New deserve credit for being such a great influence.

bodiesinflight57
December 16th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The thing is, Brand New were far from being alone in being a major influence on this record. I think Sapone's production just emphasises that influence above all others.

MyMentality
October 5th 2011


89 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think they're a lot better live, especially Murray. It's great to see his vast collection of strange guitar techniques, and he really sets the stage up there that's for sure.



But the band can do a lot better than this, the album feels too generic and safe.

NathanBeesley
April 5th 2014


5 Comments


I'm just going to throw this out there: I prefer this to Daisy.

Daisy felt a bit contrived. Brand New were so eager to create this dark mood running throughout the album, it came at the expense of good songwriting.

This album has both: Catchy indie-pop tunes, but with this dark, desperate thread holding it all together.



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