Sons and Daughters Love the Cup EP

[Domino; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: folk rock, roots rock, balladry
Others: Johnny Cash, Smog, Richard Buckner

Sons and Daughters are a Glasgow four-piece featuring Adele Bethel (vocals/guitar) and David Gow (drums) of fellow Scots Arab Strap. But while Arab Strap and contemporaries like Belle & Sebastian play lighter twee fare, Sons and Daughters harness the eerie, driving roots-rock of American folk, with Johnny Cash as an obvious touchstone -- the band names one of the disc's best songs after him. Throwing on Love the Cup is a pleasant surprise, as the combination of impassioned Scottish accents and sharp guitar sound is anything but the wimpy balladry I'd expected. "Johnny Cash" could be a Nick Cave song, with Gow and Bethel singing emotional harmony vocals. Bethel's hint of brogue and Gow's stronger one are both endearing to this American listener, but it's the maturity of the band's sound when compared to the trendier riffs of fellow British Islers like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party that sets the bar high for the group's future. The mandolin that carries "Start to End" and "La Lune" adds a celtic touch that takes the place a harmonica might in the music Sons and Daughters imitate. It took a few listens for me to figure it out, but I think I've realized the significance of the band's name: Sons and Daughters are concerned with revitalizing their parents' music of Scottish, Irish, and American tradition and adding their own international touch. "Awkward Duet," the EP's final number, might be its highest point; it wouldn't be out of place on Smog's Dongs of Sevotion. Overall, a very strong first effort.

1. Fight
2. Broken Bones
3. Johnny Cash
4. Blood
5. Start to End
6. La Lune
7. Awkward Duet