New Pixies anyone? And there’s real drums now
Universal Thee formed in 2010 as a trio with a faulty Macbook for a drummer. This remained the case for over two years. Only in March 2012 did they perform their first ever gig with a drummer. At least 8 people were in attendance.
Things changed however and by the end of March 2014 they had recorded and released their critically acclaimed slacker rock album “Back to Earth”. With a range of songs and styles, the five-piece, led by husband and wife, James and Lisa Russell, provide a Pixies-esque loud-quiet-loud dynamic, mixing slacker rock, grunge and indie pop.
It is James’ talent for writing catchy melodies delivered by beautiful male/female harmonies, matched with Robin’s ability to create diverse and powerful lead guitar hooks, that ensures listeners will be singing their songs for days.
Although their music gives a nod to their many interesting and diverse influences such as Ash, Pixies, Weezer and Queens of the Stone Age (amongst others), fans and bloggers agree that they genuinely have their own new, distinct and exciting sound.
The blog site musicmusingsandsuch sought to describe their sound, stating: “as well as melody, there is a great deal of exciting noise; this combination, combined with male and female (lead) vocals, elicits an almost-Grunge/Punk splendour, rarely attempted in the 21st century”.
February 2016 will see the release of their album “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” sees the band make a natural progression in their sound, with a more focused, more intense record evolving throughout the recording process as Universal Thee embrace the nuances of a bigger polished production as well as an increased level of complexity to their songwriting.
The result is a record that captures all of their most positive skills as a band, constructing songs with an immediacy which is difficult to achieve, as contagious harmonies are married with memorable melodies and wonderfully crafted musicianship.
Album opener ‘Why’ leads from the front, setting the tone for an album that contains ten tracks of glowing, uplifting alt-pop. Harnessing the influences of bands such as Teenage Fanclub, Pixies and current favourites Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, ‘Why’ features the band’s compelling guitar licks, boy/girl harmonies and ear-worm like choruses. ‘Xang’ and ‘Sail Away’ exhibit a grittier side to their songwriting, while forthcoming single Speaker has the potential to capture the imagination of a much wider audience.
Having all studied at Dundee University, James Russell(guitar & vocals), Lisa Russell(vocals), Robin Spivey(guitar)Andrew Perrie(bass) formed the band in Edinburgh, with Matt Grieve(drums) a recent addition.
Universal Thee have been building their name north of the border playing a number of shows supporting the likes of Ded Rabbit as well as an appearance on the pyramid stage at the Kelburn Garden Party Festival.
With more tours planned over the coming months, a debut London show in the works and the forthcoming release of their brand new album, 2016 is looking like a year where Universal Thee will spread their wings even further afield.
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace by Universal Thee is out 19th February 2016 via Eventual Heirs Records.
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