The White Stripes’ legacy has had a massive effect on the development of rock music in the last decade or so. The most obvious one is the big resurgence in blues-rock, spawning bands such as The Black Keys, Deap Vally and Alabama Shakes.
London-based Rouge are one of the latest bands to ride this wave, and they do it exceptionally. Their giant guitar sound is largely influenced by the fact that the band was initially three guitarists and a drummer coming together, one of whom decided to learn the bass and the other two moved on to sharing guitar and vocals as well as taking on songwriting. This unconventional line-up, combined with the old school attitude of producer Adam Crowe makes for a very special record.
Edge of the Bed is Rouge’s first official EP, but is superbly crafted and sounds like the work of a much more experienced band. It sounds like all sorts of artists at different times: The Dead Weather one minute, Queens of the Stone Age the next.
It opens with the title track, a drum-driven, old school foot stomper with an almost nostalgically Riot Grrl snarl. This leads into the slower ‘Strike’, which, after a Hendrix-esque riff in the intro, really shows off the strength of the vocals, and their soul influence and paradoxically smooth yet coarse contralto stylings really manages to set it aside from a lot of other similar bands. Vocals are credited to three of four band members, and the layering of vocals with the effortless musical backing really makes the track.
After this comes their debut single, ‘Wilderness’, one of my favourite songs of 2013 and the highlight of the EP, with a massive quasi-grunge feel that continues in the accompanying video. It’s big and bluesy with meandering guitars that climax to a giant wave of drums and distortion.
Finally, the record closes unexpectedly with a soulful cover of James Blake’s ‘Limit to Your Love’, with an air of early Amy Winehouse to it, achieving anything you could hope for in a cover; it’s instantly recognisable and faithful to the original but manages to take the song places it previously went nowhere near.
All in all, this EP manages to showcase everything great about this band: skilfully interwoven guitars and vocals with a wonderfully raw rhythm section offering something new to a well-established but exciting genre. They’re definitely a group to look out for in the future.