Blue Daven’s Code don’t mess around. Their brand of traditional pub rock will never truly go out of fashion, especially when it’s this well recorded. But arrangement, melody choice and placement of the money note are all critical aspects to standing apart in this game now. The Canadian three-piece are quite obviously rockers with a great collective ear for all of the above. Publicity-wise, the band is keeping things interesting too; the self-titled EP was launched as a digipak, digital download and also as a t-shirt download (each shirt sale comes with a download code). The live footage in their video archive is another great advertisement and indication of what audiences can expect live.
The EP opens with slow burner (and lead single), “Trouble in Paradise”. Acoustic guitar intro, chugging pre-chorus and nothing but “Woah-oh-oh” for chorus lyrics, seem too basic to work, but they definitely do. In hindsight, it is these bare bones dynamics, perfectly executed, that really are the highlight of the EP for me. It’s a song I will be returning to over and over just to hear vocalist ‘Gee’ weep the golden moment in the second verse: “skin and bones, heart of gold, I wanna see when your heart explodes” (sic.). Even better, breaking out of a 4/4 ostinato, the whole band accents the verse with him. It is these touches which make all the difference in this genre and without them there is no hook.
Rock dynamics have long been criticised as being ‘easy’, and there is nothing further from the truth. They are definitely fun for the musicians to play but they are easier to get wrong than right. AC/DC’s Phil Rudd is often misinterpreted as playing ‘basic’ rock beats, but I’m sure that Blue Daven’s Code drummer ‘JP’ would agree that sitting just behind the quarter note to give the band ‘that feel’ is a skill not easily mastered. The sublime clarity in the engineering of this EP allows the listener to appreciate these dynamics and the tasty chops that ornament them.
Deeper into the EP, “Alive” seems to be a dreamy rock ballad, oscillating between verse and chorus until the band breakdown to an instrumental interlude that really sucks you in. During this, the listener sits in the middle of the stereo field as the guitar, bass and drums build back to a pre-chorus. The placement and arrangement of this instrumental break is truly another great moment on the EP.
Closing track “Bad Seeds” has the most guitar impact with a welcome edge to the signature riff. Guitarist ‘Jessy’ chooses a gnarly little tone that highlights his obviously well-equipped arsenal of amps, axes and effects. It’s a fitting end to the EP and gives further insight into the fun that can be had rocking out at a Blue Daven’s Code live performance.
Like say, this EP is immaculately recorded, mixed and mastered. The vocal effects are stunning and the EQ across all instruments is beautifully balanced. The bass is locked into the kick and snare, all of them occupying just the right frequency. As intimated above the best moments for me occurred in the arrangement of the whole band around simple rock song writing structures. Surely everyone in the western world now enjoys the occasional moment when they rock out to some simple rock stylings. Well, when that moment strikes, you could do a lot worse than Blue Daven’s Code. Get into it.
Written by Scott Andrews