Earl Grey And Croquet
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Earl Grey And Croquet

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa | INDIE

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa | INDIE
Band Rock Folk

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When Chris Smith from Earl Grey and Croquet contacted me and offered to send me a copy of his album, I was surprised that he’d go to the trouble of sending it all the way to London. When I got the little package in the mail, however, it became obvious why he had made the effort. While I was expecting a Verbatim CD-R marked with permanent marker, I received an elaborate press pack, complete with some of the snazzy images you see below.

‘From the 21st Century’ is seven-track EP that showcases this band’s remarkable talent and unique brand of originality. If you ask them, they draw inspiration from a melting pot that includes Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Lynyrd Skynyrd, to more modern acts like The Killers and Counting Crows. These influences are definitely obvious, but Earl Grey and Croquet adds their own distinctive style into the mix to produce a great collection of tracks.

Guitars are definitely the main feature of this band’s sound, with a clear abundance of finely-honed skill and raw talent coming through. They blend smooth jazzy rock with funk riffs and some gutsy, saturated lead that forms the true voice of most of the songs. Lyrics, while well-crafted and expertly delivered, take a back seat to the instruments in most tracks. I’ve been quite content to put this album on and bask in the massive variety of sounds Chris Smith and Laurie Sloan manage to get out of their guitars – a worthy tribute to the synergy of Fender and Gibson guitars working together

Aside from the terrific musicality of the band’s guitarists, Earl Grey and Croquet offers a well-rounded listening experience, with enough different styles to attract a wide range of followers. My one criticism is that they should perhaps not have put the first track, ‘Pappa Was a Schoolboy’ in pole position on the album. The track doesn’t represent the fluidity and approachability that the band is capable of. But once you listen to the rest of the EP it becomes clear that this is a band that would be very entertaining to watch live, and definitely one to look out for.

Earl Grey and Croquet are currently based in Johannesburg, but are embarking on a tour of the Eastern Cape, as well as a few other venues. Full tour dates can be found on their Facebook page – so if you’re in the area, make sure you go check them out. To see if they’re the kind of summin’ summin’ you’d like to listen to, go have a listen to some of their tracks on the Earl Grey and Croquet website
- iMod


If I ever make a movie that is set in the 70’s then Pappa was a schoolboy by Earl Grey and Croquet would be on that sound track.

Reviewing albums of South African bands normally ends with me deciding one of two things, the album either sucks and I mentally use it as a coaster – or – it is a great album. From the 21st century is a great album that might not be your cup of tea. Let me explain what I mean by that statement.

Old souls in young minds

One of my previous drummers had this husky voice and when he played old 60’s songs on his acoustic he had women sitting staring with glazed eyes.

Listening the songs Lady luck and Is this love I am reminded of comments by those women that he had an old soul. Now that can either be a pick up line or a compliment. When it comes to Earl Grey and Croquet it is a compliment. From the lyrics down to the warm guitars and edgy solo riffs this is a band of four young guys who should not be playing the way they are.

My problem with almost every band lately is the VERSE – CHORUS – VERSE structure. This album is a labour of love as it was musically approached. Songs just don’t start on this album. You have at least a few pattern changes and guitar magic before the vocalist starts blurting out his popcorn lyrics... wait, this is also missing.

I can actually listen to the songs because they aren’t singing about what happened at the mall the other day or how they are going to lie in bed crying and never get over the fact that some bimbo left them for the school jock.

So if you are in a band with popcorn lyrics and desperately need to improve, listen to From the 21st century.

Technically speaking

Sound wise this is a brilliant album. A warm clear sound, perfectly mixed with depth and care.

Even when I crank up the volume I don’t get any speaker buzz or distorted vibration from the bass. Not many South African bands produce this quality of sound. You get the feeling that this album was recorded live but it is too tight for that. The bonus in that is that I can see no problem taking this album from the studio and performing it live on stage.

If you like guys like Neil Young, CSN and Dr Feelgood then this would be a great album for your collection. For the younger crowd who needs a reference I would say if you like Chris Cornell unplugged and the Alice in Chains MTV Unplugged album, add some crunch to it and you will be a fan of Earl Grey and Croquet soon.

Yay or nay

Now the golden question I always ask at the end of a review is whether this album will go big or drop like a hot potato?

I can see Varsity radio stations playing this album and I can see students supporting them at shows. I can see that because it is an album with that appeal and reach. I cannot see the major radio stations playing it because they are too narrow minded and commercial to support real bands with real talent. If the album was recorded with ProTools and 57 different filters applied to make it sound “real”, then they don’t touch it.

Instead we will be treated to the next one-hit wonder of Idols Season 6 thanks to Mnet who will be trying to get the result count right this time around.

I can see this band playing the main stages at festivals and people will enjoy every minute of it. I am hoping to see a second album with more edge. I get the feeling that this album was played safe and that there is more to come.

So Yay. - Digital Life magazine


Discography

From the 21st Century (2010)

Photos

Bio

Press quotes:

Reviewing albums of South African bands normally ends with me deciding one of two things, the album either sucks and I mentally use it as a coaster – or – it is a great album. From the 21st century is a great album – Joe Diedericks, Digital Life magazine

From the 21st Century is seven-track EP that showcases this band’s remarkable talent and unique brand of originality – Chase Richards – iMod

Earl Grey And Croquet are fresh, funky and have a passion for music that is great to see in a young an fairly new band – Viviana Bastiotto – Teen Zone magazine

We are Earl Grey And Croquet - four young musicians and friends with a unique and original approach to music, song writing and performing.

When we began to understand the pure joy of playing music together as friends, it quickly became a way to vent feeling and emotion, that which is true, expressive and above all: exciting. Our music entertains and stimulates, taking audience’s on a trips of highs and lows, thrills and chills all with easy-to-listen-to, innovative music.

Earl Grey And Croquet have a diverse following of fans of all cultures and ages who enjoy their unique sound and energetic stage presence.

Our diverse following must be because of our eclectic mix of varying musical influences: from old school legends like Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan to new age bands like Kings Of Leon, aKing, Counting Crows and The Killers.

Over the years, our own compositions have become well known with hundreds of fans. That said, we also enjoy doing covers; songs like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’, Bob Dylan’s – ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, and Kings Of Leon’s – ‘King of the Rodeo’.

Earl Grey And Croquet’s stage show is a professional act, led by energetic and lively Laurie Sloan, with the two brothers, Chris and Jonny Smith keeping the beat alive and moving. Dan ‘the man’ Millar on bass, keeps the songs grounded with his steady and groovy riffs. As musicians, but more-so as friends, we live, play and enjoy our music.

Earl Grey And Croquet’s music is of a kind to be shared and enjoyed. After all, in its essence, at its core, it’s just good people playing good songs – with a little intensity and emotion thrown in too.

The band are endorsed by Casio and Dawson Eco Plectrums.