Hunting Ulysses first EP release The Feral Youth is a grooving, grungy, sway inducing collection of songs. Dirty guitar riffs are the main dish of the day flowing nicely over Pixies-esque drumming by Will Huttley. The vocal performances are angst-ridden but melodic and tuneful enough to stay caught up in your head the way they should.
It’s grunge Jim, but not as we know it.
Of course, since Kurt Cobain was smashing guitars (and usually himself) over stages worldwide we’ve had the likes of Blur, Radiohead and Bloc Party adding their own unique aspects to the genre and transforming it into something quite different.
Hunting Ulysses have definitely done their best to incorporate a bit of Brit-Pop and definitely a little Indie-Rock into their tracks while keeping to the more simplistic guitar work of earlier grunge. Instantly comparable to the Smashing Pumpkins upon hearing the appropriately named track “Weirdo Trash”. The verse on this second track on the EP breaks out into a slurred chorus over a standard four power-chord progression that would sit nicely on an early Grunge record from as far back as ’88.
Having said that there are definitely comparisons on the opening song “Fake City Kisses” to the front-man attitude of Blur’s Damon Albarn; another band who’s career blossomed well over 15 years ago but whose relevance to the alternative scene of today cannot be doubted (Rumours of them headlining Leeds and Reading fests this year are rife on the ol’ web and it would be little surprise after finishing off the summers Olympic festivities in London’s Hyde Park).
The third track on the EP kicks off with screaming feedback and a slugging call and response between drum and vocals. The song rides on a few really nice grooves however the guitar work on the bridge of the track was one of my low-lights of the record. A shame, as the chorus of this track fits in with rest so well and is catchy enough to be a song in it’s own right.
We won’t dwell on lesser points, these boys are young and it’s a truly inspired effort for a first release. The final track “The Life Alchemist” embodies this fully. Harmonically the most complex of the four but still very basic it is the standout track by far. Groove-based music is what the 90’s were all about; honest, funkiness like this. Bassist Ethan Still really comes into his own on this track along with some lovely guitar work from front man Dan Small bringing the EP to a rising finish.
This is a modern grunge fans wet dream. If you like your music a little bit miserable, a little bit indie and a little bit ‘I’m off my tits but I’m going to sing like a drunken angel anyway” then check them out. The full EP is available for free download on Bandcamp. And it’s well worth it for the price!