ITCH - Round 2 - Stereo Stickman

ITCH Round 2


The funky strains of the intriguingly-named Prison Disco kick off Round 2 with some aplomb. There are smart lyrics delivered with real precision and elan and some fabulously unexpected melodic twists and turns which keep the listener on the edge of the seat. Couple that with some snappy, crisply-recorded drums sounds and some genre-baffling guitar treatments and the album is off to a flying start! It put me in mind of a heavier, rockier version of the wonderful Nellee Hooper-produced album by Furslide, Adventure.

The aptly-named My Oh My continues to intoxicate with some wonderful guitar and production flourishes that are the aural equivalent of balancing a delicious treat atop a meal that’s already pretty scrumptious. There is great space for the lead vocal to shine and demand the attention. Rhythmically and melodically interesting, the vocals weave around proceedings in the most accomplished of ways, avoiding cliché but also going to places that are immediately satisfying. There’s an unhurried confidence about it all that makes you feel looked after in the best sense. Yep, it’s really that good!

We get a change of pace for Tree Men. There’s the purity of All About Eve’s Julie-Ann Regan to singer Nina’s voice that allows it to be ever-present in the mix. And also a fabulous muscularity that allows it to soar above things with real power, too, when the moment demands it. Tree Men is a unique concoction of wah-wah guitar, heavy riffs and genre-straddling changes that would park the track firmly in progressive territory were it not so wantonly esoteric. It’s beguiling, interesting, unique. Wow!

Defpotek is different again, all funky, snaky bass riffs and subtle drum voices, with discordant progressions, spiky note choices, and now Nina is channelling Lene Lovich or Kate Bush to pull off some extraordinary vocal gymnastics. Is that a Jew’s Harp solo I hear? It sure is! Some slap bass??!? Sure. Stop/start rhythms? You betcha. I check to make sure I’m not on to the next track. Nope. This is amazing! And then a slap-in-the-face dead stop that makes you wonder what you were just listening to…

ReRe features some lush layered vocals and a four-on-the-floor feel reminiscent of The Killers. Watery guitar and ululating vocals line up alongside interesting drum patterns and subtle octave-ing bass parts to deliver us through to a full-speed-ahead chorus of great drive. ‘Will you join the freak circus?’ asks the lilting bridge part… Crazed laughter and nonsense ad libs jaunt across the song in a strange sequence that concludes with a lonely bass run…

The laid-back Captain Love steps up next. Thin synth pads create a haunting aesthetic for hypnotic guitar parts and syncopated rhythm section parts to lead us through yet another mood change. The intensity steps up with some high-octane telephone voice treatment and yet another memorable chorus: ‘Forever until we die’.

We’re back in muscular marching territory on Sun Will Rise, and again the character of the bass is very much to the fore in the mix. The layers of guitar provide texture and grit.

Flanging, swirling guitars kick off Yura, before chugging though to searching vocals, some guttural gang vocals and some wonderfully off-kilter arrangements and further angular note choices. Stand in the way of this tune at your peril, it’s an express train of power and interest, blistering drum fills and imaginative changes. Another cheeky ending and the album is almost done…

Where have ITCH been? I gather they’ve had a recent line-up change. I’d stick with this incarnation if you can, guys…

We end with the reeling Mangata. It feels like a bonus track from Jeff Buckley’s Grace if it were fronted by a fearsome, fearless female singer.

I’m sorry, I can’t resist rounding off the review like this: ITCH are a band you’re going to want to scratch again and again. Fearlessly inventive and full of vim and vigour, musical nous and style. Go for it!

Check out the project via Bandcamp.

Chris Porter


As well as writing about music, Chris Porter is a songwriter, singer, producer & vocal coach. He has written for all manner of international artists, including Dagny, Dzeko, and hit the No.1 spot with Thailand’s Singto Numchok. His music has had thousands of placements on film, TV & radio all around the globe.

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