There are two schools of thought when it comes to predicting which qualities a band needs to make it. (To avoid getting bogged down in a first-paragraph debate, let’s define this as popular enough to make music for a living.)
A. A combination of factors coming together: employing a well-connected manager / being championed by influential people / spending more time on the road than an escaped prisoner / establishing a sizeable fanbase / picking the right band name / sporting twattish haircuts.
B. The more romantic theory, which says a band will become successful (even if they have none of A) as long as they make Great Music.
I’ve always subscribed to B since my all-time favourite records were made by artists who have enjoyed fruitful careers. However, one band and one album is making me doubt the validity of this perspective more than any other.
ENDOR, both the name of the band and their 2010 debut album, is such a complete, angelic, smart, melodic proposition. The more I listen to their extraordinary record, the more I question why they’re not widely regarded as one of the finest acts Scotland has produced… unless A really does hold true since Endor don’t employ a well-connected manager, aren’t championed by influential people, don’t spend more time on the road than an escaped prisoner, haven’t established a sizeable fanbase, didn’t pick the right band name and don’t sporting twattish haircuts.
Listening to their album is an abundantly fulfilling and continually rewarding undertaking. The faster songs remind me of a more harmonious Pavement, especially All Your More Buoyant Thoughts and Without The Help Of Sparks, while their immaculate indie-rock ballads wouldn’t look out of place on an REM greatest hits compilation. The acoustic Chapel Doors, in particular, possesses the same unquantifiable simplicity that makes a song like Fake Plastic Trees so special.
Fly Straight And Always Wear Sensible Shoes is definitely my favourite Endor song, though, and has several moments of genius scattered throughout it – there’s the interlude of handclaps at 3:17, the bursts of harmonica, and the irresistible chorus which finds David McGinty (known universally as Jarv for reasons I’ve yet to discover) singing the lyrics as a two-way conversation between a girl and a guy, with their opposing points of view broken up by a subtle backing vocal of, “He comes back with…”.
McGinty’s songwriting varies between poetically abstract and intensely personal and poignant, the latter to the fore on Two Lovers (“Two lovers holding hands make our love look dead”), a lament which has a sudden mid-song tempo shift led by a brief flurry of a cappella and then a dreamy piano/guitar instrumental at 2:00 – it’s probably my favourite bit on the entire record and gets me every time.
If you don’t already have Endor in your life, you really are missing out.
March 31, Captain’s Rest, Glasgow (tickets) – supported by Randolph’s Leap, Esperi and Amber Wilson
Endor – Chapel Doors
Endor – Hold On
Hold On was their first single, released via Say Dirty Records back in 2006 and long sold out. Their second single, We Live In Doors, is still available on iTunes.