Today, I grabbed 'Before Beyond', the second album by Swiss band Scratches, from the pile of things to review. After only a few songs, I found myself thinking about yesterday's conversation again, especially the part where I mentioned that music comes in many different forms. Later, after listening to the entire album, I had written down a bunch of references, including Radiohead, Simply Red, Pink Floyd, Alannah Myles, Lou Reed, Applecraft, Tina Turner and Lauren Hill. I know, those bands have very little to do with each other.
Fact is, 'Before Beyond' contains a bunch of excellent pop songs with elements from shoegaze, soul, blues and americana. Yet, there is also a grittiness to be found, much to my delight. Although the songs are well-written, they are not always easy digestible. They grab your attention and almost make you listen to them. I like that, it proves that this is far from the rubbish that the world of pop music barfs out these day. Perhaps, in a way, you can compare the approach of Scratches to that of Nick Cave, with an eye for detail and quality.
It's also very hard to pick out a favorite track since each of them seems to have its own identity. 'Lonel & Iness' is quite catchy, which is nice. 'Beautiful' is a Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg kind of blues ballad which sent chills down my spine. 'Give Me your Pain' is an absolute tearjerker, in the best possible sense of the word. The list of compliments can go on and on, especially after a few listens. That being said, yes, this album might need a few spins before it starts growing on the listener, but still, it's a damn strong effort.
'The Crow And The Sheep' is another highly recommended song and another deeply emotional soul ballad. I can easily imagine this one being played live in a gloomy jazz club. However, I prefer to witness this live in a decent venue, which obviously means that I want to see this stuff live. I'm sure it will be an intense and emotional experience. But now comes the hardest part, who to recommend this one to? Well, simply put: everyone who is into high quality alternative pop music. Check it out, you'll be pleasantly surprised.