Woodenbox – End Game (Olive Grove)

The Scottish alt-folk sextet grow as a band, but continue to be outdone by their own horn section

Released May 27th, 2013 via Olive Grove / By Mikey Reynolds
Woodenbox – End Game (Olive Grove) Continuing somewhat of a surprising trend, Woodenbox (neè Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers) are the latest Scottish band to release material that doesn't sound particularly Scottish. End Game sees the Western-inspired outfit move things forward, improving considerably on their 2010 debut.

All the vital elements that made Home And The Wild Hunt an interesting listen three years ago are present and correct here. However, as then, the mariachi-esque horns continue to be the standout, almost to the point of overshadowing the rest of the band. Certainly, they help lift second track ‘Courage’, but on ‘Beautiful Terrible’ they all but distract from one of the most driving songs on the record.

Looking beyond the horn section that has somewhat come to define Woodenbox, there is an equally capable band bubbling under the surface. Frontman Ali Downer's drawl lends itself particularly well to the music, equally matched by the tight band he plays alongside. ‘Everybody Has A Price’ serves as the best showcase for the band as a whole. Downer's downtrodden vocals link with sweeping instrumentation and the ubiquitous horns for their most complete track on the album.

Woodenbox worked on End Game with well-known producer Paul Savage (Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, etc.) and his input has undoubtedly helped the band along. Nonetheless, if only they could pull out more in the vein of what they show with ‘Everybody Has A Price’, Woodenbox would become a band much talked about for their music and not just their horn section.