Last week, upcoming student band Rainbow Shark played a gig at the Wheatsheaf to launch their debut self-titled EP. Jack Levy sings, plays the keys, and crafts the electronics, whilst Bill Wright plays the guitar. The duo’s set showcased the breadth of their material and marked them out as an Oxford group set to rival Marvellous Medicine, who currently reign supreme amongst student bands, as well as illustrating their potential to go beyond the university’s walls.
The pair opened with ‘Between the Shards’, the lead single from their EP. Building from a fast hand-drum beat and simple electric guitar chord pattern, Levy’s sonorous voice, falling somewhere between the richness of The National’s Matt Berninger and the slight nasal delivery of Thom Yorke, leads the song into the refrain. The electric guitar is replaced with a loosely tuned acoustic model, and its organic contrast satisfyingly resonates. It works beautifully.
Elsewhere, Levy’s electronics come to the forefront. On ‘After the Rain’, a currently unreleased track, the opening electronics take cues from the steel drum sound of Jamie xx’s work, but the warm percussion of the maracas and the ridiculously catchy rhythm takes the song into Balearic territory, reminiscent of recently defunct Swedish duo Air France. Wright’s sustained chords at the beginning build a framework for the song, whilst the later fast-paced lick is so tight it sounds like a loop, giving full credit to his fretwork. Similarly, on closing track ‘Killer Sharks’, a minimal techno, New Order-inspired prefatory riff runs into soaring uptempo chords.
Refusing to operate within one genre, the warm and fuzzy distortion on foot-tapping new song, ‘A Year Underground’, takes the band in a direction reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with their balmy reverb. Their influences are diverse, but with Levy’s distinctive vocal resonance and the jangle of Wright’s guitar, the duo have crafted a distinguishable sound that binds their work together and is refreshingly original. Keep your eyes peeled for further performances by the duo.
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