The Hermit Crabs - Feel Good Factor EP

matinée 063  /  December 2006
The Hermit Crabs - Feel Good Factor EP
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The Hermit Crabs - Feel Good Factor EP

matinée 063  /  December 2006

Impressive debut single from very promising new Glasgow act The Hermit Crabs. Band members Melanie Whittle and Des McKenna are veterans of Scottish favorites California Snow Story, while John Ferguson and Tony McDonald complete the current lineup. Lead track ‘Feel Good Factor’ is rich with instrumentation and simply spectacular... the sort of song that comes along only once in awhile but sticks with you forever. The track is one of the winners in Scotland’s Burnsong song writing competition so prepare for something truly remarkable. The EP also features ace exclusive songs ‘China Girl,’ ‘Vegan Vows’ and ‘I Spend My Time’ - three more top quality tracks featuring violin, classical guitar, keyboards, superb vocals and strong lyrics. Perfect for fans of Camera Obscura, Tender Trap, Belle and Sebastian or Sambassadeur, the Hermit Crabs are a very welcome addition to the Matinée roster. The band is currently working on its debut album for release in 2007.

  1. Feel Good Factor
  2. China Girl
  3. Vegan Vows
  4. I Spend My Time


Listening to this EP faced me with the difficult task of trying to suppress four years of blind worship to the Alter of Ms Tracey-Anne Campbell. Let’s face it, comparisons are lazy and unfair, but soft female vocals lulled over some mid-tempo Glaswegian twee inevitably meant any mention of The Hermit Crabs was always going to be quickly followed by one of ‘Camera Obscura’. But that aside, the Feel Good Factor EP does try to delve beneath obvious influences carving out a more individual sound for itself. Apart from ‘Feel Good Factor’ which not only creates the most disgustingly farfetched and wholly untruthful picture of Glasgow (“I wanna see those faces the glorious sight/oh the glorious people of Sauchiehall Street”), but easily sounds the most like CO. The rest of the tracks have the stamp of the ‘Crabs own personality; an essence of an overbearing glumness in Melanie Whittle’s vocals; a delicate sadness, but one which is counteracted by pretty harmonies, a gentle piano piece, sweet recorders or a wavering violin. Their personality is probably best expressed in ‘I Spend My Time’, which falls in-between an upbeat light twee and an eerie discord, and as the last track on the EP definitely shows they’ve got legs of their own to carry on with, or at least pincers…   --Is This Music?
Can pop be as cute as this? I just love it when singers allow themselves small "cha-cha-cha's" or "ai-ai-ai's", like they do here. The Glasgow folk-tinged indiepop-band The Hermit Crabs has just released their brilliant debut "feel good factor EP" on Matinée recordings, and this really is music with a high feel good factor. The band was started in 2003 by Melanie Whittle (guitars, vocals) and Des McKenna (bass), when their old band California Snow Story were put on hold (we posted about CSS in another eardrums-post recently). John Ferguson (lead guitar), Ali King (violin, keyboards and percussion) and Tony McDonald (drums) complete the line-up. Their sound is not too different from Melanie and Des' old band, and bands like Camera Obscura, early Belle and Sebastian and maybe even The Go-Betweens can also be used as references for their sound. Their EP is filled with four lovely songs, and it's hard to pick stand-outs here. All of them are cute popsongs with lyrics worth listening to. The Hermit Crabs are currently working on their debut album, planned for release this spring. Some of the tracks on the album are produced by Teenage Fanclub's Francis McDonald. The Hermit Crabs is definitely a band to watch in 2007.   --Eardrums
In this over-saturated world where everyone with a record collection and a cheap home-recording setup can make a shot at becoming a minor-league indie-rock sensation, it's all about gimmicks. There are thousands of other bands out there vying for a slim slice of audience attention, and if you don't establish yourself in a minute, you'll lose 85 percent of listeners. It's about flash, gimmicks and reeling listeners in right off the bat. Glasgow's Hermit Crabs offer a return to the sacred art of simple songwriting. The band's debut EP captures four cuts of sure-and-simple pop that doesn't need to charm its way into our ears with clever allusions to its predecessors, finely tuned guitar tones or any one of a dozen or so other pretenses picked up in an art-school cafeteria. Sure, it might cost The Hermit Crabs a few listeners right off the bat, but it's sure to make up for it where it counts: fans of pure, uncut pop. Built around the title track, a winner in Scotland's Burnsong songwriting competition, this EP's a carefully constructed balance between straightforward pop and cleverly layered instrumentation. "The Feel Good Factor" centers on singer/guitarist Melanie Whittle's simple vocals, which are rich with melody without overpowering the rest of the track. A bubbly, elastic bass line ties together a jangly guitar and keyboards for a package that's strangely suited to rainy-day bedroom moping or a sunshine-filled afternoon in the park. "Vegan Vows" is a more economical arrangement, with brittle acoustic strumming and piano melodies ushering the band through a tale of twentysomething heartbreak that skirt melodrama to embrace the everyday bummers of early adulthood. "I Spend My Time" and "China Girl" round out the effort with light, breezy jangle-pop. Despite -- or probably because of -- The Hermit Crabs' low-key approach to songwriting, Feel Good Factor delivers an enjoyable romp through pure pop. At the end of the day, when the gimmicks wear out, novelties are packed away and songwriters' tricks go flaccid, that's all that matters isn't it? Keep an eye on The Hermit Crabs -- given a little more time to percolate with its full-length Scotland might have another minor sensation brewing.
The Hermit Crabs is a Glasgow band that plays whispery, loving twee-pop. Its lyrics are small-scale and full of whimsy and regret coupled with a wistful hopefulness. The musicians look for clothes “at the charity bin”; they sing odes to “my china girl” (I think this means a figurine rather than a woman from Asia); they worry that their unrequited crushes will come to a depressing fruition. They “spend my time, filling my head with silly things / Wonderful whirligigs / You pass me by / Move on to other things / In your absent meanderings”; and they do it all to the finely-drawn sweetness of a cello and Melanie Whittle’s plaintive, husky voice. These are songs for a thousand university residences and share houses. The ‘Crabs has a full-length album coming out later this year and I’m already looking forward to it.   --Pop Matters
Have you heard the new Hermit Crabs single on Matinée records? First time I gave it a spin I thought I had put the wrong disc in the slot. ‘Hang on,’ I said to myself, ‘this is Camera Obscura’. And I was right. Because really, all four cuts on the Feel Good Factor EP carry not just the patina of Camera Obscura, but also the very fibre of their being. And in case you are wondering, that’s not a criticism. Not at all. Every great artist has copied ones who have gone before. Why, didn’t we all make comments about Belle And Sebastian when ‘Eighties Fan’ first graced our stereos? And did we care? Did we refuse to clutch the then fledgling Obscura to our twee collective hearts? Did we buggery. We danced and we sang. We shot fireworks in the sky and we scratched their name in love hearts on our pencil cases. And so it should be with The Hermit Crabs. Four songs of sweet succinct Pop that snaps and crackles in all the right places. A recorder tweets and a tambourine shuffles. Guitars tingle and a voice sings about being making vegan vows, china girls, wonderful whirligigs and the glorious people of Sauchiehall Street. Make space on your pencil case.   --Tangents
Medium cool is a perfect description of what indie has come to mean. There's a quote by Steven Wells from NME on a Love Parade flexi that reads "I can honestly say I've never even heard of The Love Parade". That's hilarious! I doubt they've heard of The Hermit Crabs either. Who cares? Here's a conversation I overheard: “So there's a new band on Matinée huh? Aye, they're called The Hermit Crabs...but they're actually quite a friendly bunch. Are they any good? Do you have to ask? It's Matinée man... Have they been in the NME? No, they play guitars and sing songs about you and me... They're not That Kind of Band. Do they use pedals? No. But they might in the future, if they can find instructions on how to use them on the web. So they're not 'cool' then? Medium cool. They're more, like... important. The good thing about having a Matinée band in your city is that you can actually see them live every other month. I did. At Brel yesterday. They were really good, had a full band and all. You should see them too, I think they're playing at the RAFA club in April.” I couldn't agree more.   --The Rain Fell Down
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so The Hermit Crabs might sound pretty much similar to Camera Obscura. But, so what? There aren’t many better bands to sound like, after all. ‘Feel Good Factor’ is a lovely little ditty, seemingly dedicated to the good people of Sauchiehall Street in that there Glasgow. It’s almost a polka, or a waltz, or something. It’s a bit continental in parts, anyway. And it’s a thousand times better than anything Belle and Sebastian have done in the last four or five years.   --Tasty
Oltros que vienen empujando desde Glasgow, con un EP previo al álbum, Melanie y Des son los jefes y ya tienen curriculo. La canción que le da nombre es tan arrebatadora que incluso viene con premio incorporado. Ojo también a una ‘China Girl’ que no es la de Bowie.   --Calle 20