Reviews Zone

Carnival Club: Nomads & Crooks (Demolition Diner Records) March 16th 2018




4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)




This young and hungry Manchester four-piece indie rock outfit smacked me between the eyes with their debut release, last year’s audacious and aggressive EP “Magdalena’s Cape”.

I raved about that record, tipped them as ‘ones to watch’ and grabbed a chat with front man, singer and songwriter Kai Jon Roberts for a follow up interview feature.

Not only that, but in our “Best Of 2017”, end of year round up, we awarded the band “Best EP of 2017”, for “Magdalena’s Cape”, and they were “Hot Contenders” as band of the year too. Plus; Kev Carroll who produced their record, was among the runners-up in the “Producer Of The Year” nod.

So, here’s that ‘difficult second record’; another EP, five-track affair “Nomads & Crooks”. All band originals, four produced by Kev Carroll again and one, the opener “Sin City” produced by Joe Cross, who has worked with The Courteeners and Hurts. Carnival Club supported Liam Fray from The Courteeners on his sell out tour at the end of last year.

Carnival Club’s last three Manchester gigs have all sold out, and they are slowly starting to get talked about in the right circles. If those VIPS had read Music Republic Magazine throughout last year, they’d have already sussed this was a red hot band worthy of support.

Carnival Club are Kai Jon Roberts (vocals/guitar), Eddie Moxon (guitar), George Peel (bass) and John Azopardi (drums). I am reluctant to include this cliched sentence about them, which their current PR blurb states: ….. “and they’re about to rock your world”.

But, their previous release did make a hell of an impact with me. One of those rare times you hear something new and it stops you in your tracks. All thoughts of whatever it was you were about to do, gone. While you soak up the glorious and LOUD sounds you are being subjected to. Not so much something to listen to, but something that attacks your senses and restores your faith in modern day music, amid all the manufactured and mediocre bullshit out there.

Then you just want to read up about who they are; and find out when and where you can go see them. I’d be the oldest bugger in the gaff as and when I do go see them live, but I am OK with that if they are. I promise not to Dad dance or wet myself!

So, to the new one. Did it have the same impact as their debut? Not quite. Is it good? Yes. Very. Does it deserve wide spread attention. Yes. Are the songs as strong as on the first one. The jury is out on that one for me, to be honest.

I think the other songs had more commercial appeal, and were overall perhaps a tad more powerful and dynamic from the off. But with this one, it will be a slow burn and needs a few spins. Also, I think the previous songs were well road tested and worn in. Maybe these are newer and need bedding in with a good few live performances. Perhaps also, these songs have a bit more “hidden depths” to them, and are less hooky and commercial.  Still of a quality.

They have a tour coming up in March, calling in at Bristol on 11th, Nottingham, London, Manchester, Leeds and finally to Hull on 21st March. So, these songs will get a good airing then, no doubt.

“Sin City” is a good start, but the song and the performance didn’t fully hold my attention. The mix sounds a tad muddy to my ears, too. Before I read that their previous producer didn’t work on one of the songs, I wondered if this was the track. It is.

No offence intended to Joe Cross. Perhaps Kev knows this band a lot better and has a firmer handle on their core sound, and not a general “indie” guitar band sound template. Or maybe it is just down to personal taste on my part.

“Follow The Sun” has a lot more balls and oomph, especially on the drum sound. The song is a stronger piece of writing too. The lead vocal is miles better than the first one, and back to that yearning and swaggering attitude that Kai marinates into his best delivery. The first song sounded like a work in progress and more demo quality than ready for release on a commercially available record. The rest sound like they have had a lot more time invested.

The guitars sound bloody gorgeous, and the whole thing has an ethereal quality, more akin to this band’s USP from the first EP. An infectious and chilled vibe to track two, which is missing from track # one. BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music would play this I bet, but would probably “pass” on “Sin City. If you told me that Noel Gallagher or Richard Ashcroft wrote this song, “Follow The Sun”, I would not dispute it.

“Parole” is a moody, reverb-soaked, melancholic indie situation with a lengthy intro, before it really kicks off. Kai gently soars with his vocals, and if he was any more laid back he’d fall over.

The song structure is a tad restrictive for the vocal lines, but it still works, mainly because of the lovely guitar production and Kai’s passionate vocal delivery. It does eventually build into a more powerful event, but again; may take a few spins to really get it. But man, those guitars sound fierce and weapon-like. I bet their amps go all the way to 11, too!

“Nomad” is a rambunctious, in-your-grill, uptempo rocking affair, with thumping tribal drums and menacing vocals. The guitars create an impenetrable wall of sound, and I am betting this track will eventually become a popular live track in the set. Growling throaty element to Kai’s vocal as the track progresses.

Closer “Cut The Slack” has a grunged-up approach, a howling vocal from Kai, and the crescendo of guitars reminiscent of a big budget Bond theme blasting out of the Surround-Sound at the Odeon. Good song, increases in intensity. Spot on production.

There is definitely progression from the band and their output, and they are still firmly up there in my estimation as a band most likely to make it, whatever that means. Mike Darby and his Bristol-based label took a chance, an outside bet; investing in this raw and relatively inexperienced young band, wanting to help them to be heard far and wide. His support and belief should not be underestimated.

I do not think he made a mistake, far from it. I just think it requires patience and a few more trips to the studio – but with Kev Carroll at the helm, for sure – before management or label reap any dividends. Soon come, methinks. The Carnival is far from over, just yet!



By Simon Redley




1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’


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