On the radar: White Heath

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An intense gigging schedule over recent months can be taken as proof that Edinburgh's White Heath are prepared to put in the hard work to back up their considerable early promise.

The city's Forest Cafe saw the band become regulars during the hyper competitive month of August. Normally the clamour of the Edinburgh Festival forces most local musicians to take the month off, when faced with the annual invasion of public school children and their modern day hip hop influenced adaptations of Hamlet.

Thankfully, with all five band members having recently graduated from Edinburgh University, their focus is now on the music. Aside from a concerted effort to gig whenever and wherever, what makes White Heath distinctive is the range of influences in their work.

"Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and The Band were pretty much what I was raised on by my parents," says lead singer Sean Watson. "But Shoubhik and Alastair particularly have strong classical influences like Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler".

Sourced from the Under the Radar blog

This contrast in musical backgrounds is complimented by Adam Pearson on guitar and Mark Rowley on bass trombone. "I wouldn't overemphasise our use of instruments as something which makes us different though," adds Watson. "We don't think we are cleverer or more innovative than anyone else because we use a bass trombone rather than a bass guitar."

White Heath's sound can range from classical to gospel at times, but has a rigid indie backbone. Most of their tracks begin slowly and build over running times often approaching seven or eight minutes, giving an epic feel to proceedings.

The band's EP launch at the Forest Caf was blighted by an unfortunate off-night for the venue's sound man, but their live shows are always energetic, eclectic and have earned them rave reviews. Their material seems barely beyond the embryonic stage in terms of where it could go from here, but the quality is already evident.

Of the new material on The Sea Wall EP, '7:38am' plays like an indie version of Elvis Costello and 'Election Day' is only rivalled by the same song's acoustic version (available on their MySpace) as their finest song to date.

When prodded to reveal the band's creative process, Watson replies: "Individually we all write, but when the band writes and performs together it becomes unique and a very different animal. If anyone isn't playing it sounds and feels very different. I don't think if anyone were to leave the band we would look to replace them and merely substitute someone on their instrument."

White Heath are young and handsome enough to appeal to the mainstream - and certainly talented enough to appeal to the more fickle alternative market. They are one of the Scottish independent music scene's best chances of a successful crossover act with the potential to be commercially successful and, crucially for them, maintain the respect of their peers.

White Heath's EP 'The Sea Wall' is available now through their MySpace page.

Intrigued? Watch White Heath live at Maggie May's, Glasgow on 1 Oct.