Sunday, August 28, 2016

Album Review: Oyawa - Won't Even Try To Scale It (2016)

This is one of three reviews submitted to NZ Musician for the most recent issue. The other two made it into the print edition, this one got some online coverage ...

Recorded and produced at Blackdoor Studios in Auckland across the second half of 2015, ‘Won't Even Try To Scale It’ is the latest EP from the Waiheke Island-based three-piece Oyawa. Checking in at just under half an hour, the EP amounts to six tracks of varying degrees of heaviness, headlined by the popular student radio favourite ‘Heads On Fire’. These tunes are not so much outright heavy, as they are merely weighty, and the band’s careful use of the art of repetition tends to create a sort of dark brooding intensity throughout. There’s an underlying anxiety, a sense of impending doom perhaps, without the music ever really breaking out into anything resembling unashamed card-carrying hard rock. Part of the reason for that is the occasionally menacing vocal stylings of lead singer Nikki Ngatai (who also plays guitar), as she squeezes every last smidgen of meaning out of a set of lyrics that frequently stare into a rather shadowy abyss. The rhythm pairing of Brett Garrity (bass) and Miles Gillett (drums) complement this voice-as-main-weapon approach perfectly, giving Ngatai’s upfront personality enough room to flourish in its own right. A second guitarist, Willem van der Plas, joins the band for a couple of tracks without radically altering a formula that clearly works, and on this evidence, we certainly won’t have seen or heard the last of Oyawa.

Here’s the slightly edited version as published on the NZ Musician website:

And here’s a link to the Oyawa Bandcamp page, where you can purchase the EP:

And here’s ‘Heads On Fire’ …

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