3 Dec 2022

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Elliott Dawson - Single Review: CEO

18 May 2022 // A review by Callum Wagstaff
Elliott Dawson plays angry art rock inspired both by British post-rock and South London jazz. CEO is the first single from his album Hang Low which will be released independently in September 2022 and was recorded at Surgery Studios in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara with engineer James Goldsmith (Avant-Glass, Recitals, Wiri Donna, Mermaidens, Earth Tongue).

CEO is such a bouncy banger it should be impossible to fold your arms and nod stoically to, even for a Kiwi bloke who's beer blanket hasn't set in yet. It sounds like if Black Country New Road were able to have fun.

In New Zealand, if you have horn sections in hard music, you automatically face the tradition set by Supergroove
and Head Like a Hole in popular music. CEO succeeds in bringing new layers to that venerable foundation.
The prominence of the jazz influence adds a level of freak-out to the mixture that feels fresh and exciting. The angular notes and rhythms convey an edge that simple heaviness isn't capable of producing. The time signature is compatible with the strut of an upwardly mobile, high-paced businessman talking over everyone around him.

The vocal delivery and production reminded me of Shapeshifter, especially in "come try these shoes my son", where it doubles up and even the way it jumps ahead of the note it's settling on.
I would have liked to hear some more derangement or grunty bravado in the vocals towards the end. There was a ceiling to the dynamics that I didn't feel getting scraped. Dawson says he wanted to slap you in the face and be almost scary; I was waiting for the vocal to reach a more percussive quality for that vibe with less composure and less silk.
The low distorted voice under his lead is a great touch, it gets across that gross masculine idea he's exploring in a fun and interesting way and just sounds really cool.

Dawson says the rest of Hang Low will be more considered compared to the face slap that is CEO, so expect it as a foil to future singles or a jumping off point for a different tangent. In the meantime, I recommend CEO. A week later I've still got "I want to speak to the man in charge" rattling around in my head and the horns rattling my hips.

12" vinyl will be available for pre-order via Elliott's Bandcamp from 27 May 2022.
Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Elliott Dawson

Elliott Dawson was born and raised in Kirikiriroa, before making the move to Poneke in 2016. He has been releasing and performing original music since his Waikato high-school days under a variety of different monikers, but is best known for his work with guitar-pop foursome Doons, a staple of the Poneke indie scene since 2018, beloved by SRN audiences.

Under Doons, Elliott toured Aotearoa, and released two well-received EPs, the later of which, The Importance of Being Indifferent, achieving a combined 35k Spotify streams. Under the Radar described their later EP as featuring “guitars as sparkling as the waters at Oriental Bay Beach on a good day and big-hearted yet relatable world-weary lyrics...”. Oli Cheyne of Salient Magazine also heaped praise on the foursome, stating “the songs of Importance [are] cathartic to hear as complete pieces, played with an emotion that is rarely matched”.

Their singles Shallows and 2 Sides, charted in the top three of the Student Radio Network’s Top 10 chart. Their high-energy live show was welcomed alongside acts such as Rikki Reid, Ha the Unclear, Dartz, Hot Donnas, and warranted a set on Rhythm and Vines’ iconic Garden Stage. More recently, Elliott has honed his indie experience as lead guitarist and backing vocalist in rising-band Wiri Donna, Poneke’s indie-riff-rock darling, also beloved by SRN audiences across the motu.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Elliott Dawson


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