Take a group of young men with a clear commitment to producing their own idiosyncratic quality music without worrying about transient trends and fashions, give them a few years to develop their skills and gain experience touring the UK and Europe, then enable them to record a full selection from their repertoire – the result is ‘Scorpio Leisure’ by The Stagger Rats. They have clearly listened to and learned from a wide range of artists from previous decades as there are echoes of many greats to be heard within the multi-layered production here.
I recently met them ahead of a gig in Camden when they asked me what I thought of the album; although I was familiar with a couple of tracks, I had to admit that some others were much less familiar – I always like to reserve judgement until I have heard an album a number of times before trying to offer opinions. I have now been able to listen carefully on a number of occasions and feel ready to summarise my impressions.
Although memories of early Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Small Faces and The Sensational Alex Harvey band were triggered whilst listening, these simply served to add depth to the resulting tracks. There is no hint of any attempts to simply re-cycle previous decades, the band have simply been open to consider whatever might be best for their songs and work towards producing something very special. The Stagger Rats have a very distinctive and current sound and benefit from two main vocalists, Daniel Paylor has a clear and wide range to complement Callum Easter’s wonderfully unique style.
The tight instrumentals provided by Daniel and Craig Mcmullen’s guitars, Callum’s keyboards, Terry McDermott’s bass and Kai Wallace’s drums span jaunty, trebly and upbeat to complex, intertwined and thoughtful. The vocals are at times light-hearted and fun, and at others rather emotive. Their lyrics are well-crafted and interesting, in ‘Small Town Tale’ they give away their Edinburgh roots, how many others will bemoan not being able to “get chip sauce on a chip roll”?
The single ‘Sleeping Off Ecstasy’, one of the slower paced inclusions, is delivered with much feeling. ‘Fuzzy Fuzzy’ is such a joy and always makes me feel good when it treats my ears. ‘Paper And Glass’ begins with some tribal drumming and ‘Red Hands’ kicks off with wonderful jangly guitar, whilst the Hammond organ features strongly at the start of ‘Comprehension Suspension’. All told this collection of thirteen varied tracks is a wonderful introduction to The Stagger Rats for anybody who is keen to diversify their music collection. The cover artwork features the band presented in a Jack Vettriano style and would be so good to see as a twelve inch vinyl sleeve.
1/ Maybe When I Get A Bit Older
2/ I’m In Love
3/ Fuzzy Fuzzy
4/ Comprehension Suspension
5/ Shasta Cascade
6/ Red Hands
7/ Sleeping Off Ecstasy
8/ Whippet Snack
9/ Small Town Tale
10/ Paper And Glass
11/ Shine A light
12/ Man Of Morals
13/ Drinking Song