Review: Ottersgear – The Quest for Rest
Published on November 27th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Southampton-based label Sotones has released some gems this year – check out the ace LPs by Anja McCloskey and Johnny5thWheel&thecowards, for example – so Rocksucker hasn’t been caught off guard by how much we like this debut album from Lancaster singer/songwriter Mikey Kenney, aka Ottersgear.
While Kenney wears his folk influences boldly on his sleeves, The Quest for Rest is never in danger of retreating into mere imitation thanks to the abundance of character dripping from his tremulous vocals, elegant lyricism and swoonsome swells of melody. Truly this is music from the heart, for the heart, in a way so bucolic and wrung-out that the prevailing plastic emotion of Scrubs soundtracks and Jared Leto-style douchery will feel worlds away, Kenney possessing that rare ability to tug at the heartstrings without spilling into over-earnestness.
In this sense there’s a touch of the Neutral Milk Hotel about him, albeit from more of a first person vantage point; it’s that stirring, sweeping and ever-so-slightly-silly force of nature that melts away everything else around it and silences rooms in a live capacity. “Top of the Stair” in particular is evidence of that, sounding conceivably as if it had been done in one take, Kenney’s gentle fingerpicking and slightly crazed musical saw of a voice adding up to a display of raw personality that’s delightfully in opposition to the homogeneous studio sheen of our age.
“Teach me strange new things” Kenney implores on “Where Ottersgear Lies”, but he might better serve the world by assuming the mantle of teacher himself. Another Sotones triumph, then.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Ottersgear: The Quest for Rest is out now on Sotones. For more information, please visit www.mikeykenney.co.uk