The Half Rabbits
Tasty Fanzine – December 2009 – Of This City/We’ll Sleep Again
Is this the beginnings of a rockier, raggier and rougher version of The Half Rabbits? ‘Of this City’ seems to signal the band suddenly getting unleashed and throwing all their weight behind a track rather than many of their previous tracks which seemed to thrive on a more studied, understated and underlying malevolence. There’s some similar motifs breaking through –the female vocals used to punctuate a repetitive, driving line for emphasis for example but there is also the slight sense that things could completely spin out of control at any moment, the drums being especially on edge.
‘We’ll Sleep Again’ sees us return to more familiar Half Rabbits territory – controlled and poised with a neat hammer-on guitar effect raking across the track. And to close things off we have a rare acoustic track ‘Birthday Song’ which sees a glimpse of an unforeseen, more tender songwriting style, accompanied with arguably Michael’s strongest vocals to date. As a forerunner to the debut album due in the new year, this is almost the perfect EP, promising many possibilities and directions to be explored on the longer format.
Subba-Cultcha.com – December 2009 – Of This City/We’ll Sleep Again
Another fine slice of noir-stained indie from subba fav’s THR, taking Interpol’s driving melancholy and marrying it with a disjointed, wreck of influences that create something which with each listen you scrape another layer from, revealing something more to keep you fully focused upon it!
Russell’s Reviews – December 2009 – Of This City/We’ll Sleep Again
Oxford quartet The Half Rabbits issue another single, the latest in a long line that has steadily improved with time. Michael’s voice has changed, now a clearer sound replacing the darkness of yore. Of This City still has Editors tones, but is a rather more ebullient beast, snapping and snarling, with popping drums and steely guitars. We’ll Sleep Again has electro industrial shards of guitars and a grandiose gothic chorus. It’s the best track and the catchiest. Birthday Song completes the single, and is a dark acoustic James style ballad.
Nightshift – December 2009 – Of This City/We’ll Sleep Again
Sombre of mood and possessed of a vocalist, Michael Weatherburn, with slightly theatrical delivery, it’s difficult not to review The Half Rabbits without mentioning the word gothic. Back in action two years after ‘The Final Days of Rome’, they’re unbowed by the intervening vagaries of musical fashion, here pumping out a spidery post-punk that big on lyrical portent and stridently fuzzed-up guitars. So far so Joy Division, but Michael’s debonair vocal style, particularly on ‘Birthday Song’, adds a bit of Divine Comedy-style camp to proceedings.
Russsell’s Reviews – September 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
Many apologies to The Half Rabbits , whose EP ‘The Final Days Of Rome’ got buried under a pile of stuff in my house for three months. All the more annoying when I play it and find that lead track ‘This Changes Everything’ is the best thing they’ve done to date. Michael’s voice is more powerful and graceful than ever, it employs the light and shade trick to great effect with the dark bits making you feel like you’re being hit by shards of flying glass. ‘Louis’ Revenge’ treads water a bit, but has great backing vocals, while ‘Attention: This Is Your Conscience Speaking’ has guitars that spiral and drive and really forceful drumming which perfectly back up the sinister lyrical warning.’
Penny Black Music – September 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
Pounding bass, heavy guitars, proper singing. What isn’t there to like about the Half Rabbits? This is intelligent rock music at its best. The opening track, ‘This Changes Everything’, is part trashy guitar, part quieter singing – a well put together song.
‘Louis’ Revenge’ owes a lot to the darker side of British folk musicin its vocalisation and military style drum beat. This tale of revenge, however, has heavier guitars than you would expect from folk music. It is both faster and more exciting.
‘Attention: This Is Your Conscience Speaking’ is the third track on this CD single. It is again excellent, but I just like the other two better. The Half Rabbits seem to have got heavier. They have really found their style since they released ‘Tiny Knives for Tiny Minds’ and it shines through in this stronger release. I look forward to hearing more from them and to hopefully catching them live.
Room Thirteen – August 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
“The Final Days Of Rome” is a dark pop infused art-rock three track of quirky riffs, mannered vocals and full distorted fuzz. It is possible to draw comparisons to Joy Division, Pixies and even perhaps Franz Ferdinand, but you’d only really be scratching the surface; for all the similarities it’s possible to pick out, there are half a dozen differences.
This is a band with a sound all their own; the quiet-loud of ‘This Changes Everything’ probably has the catchiest tune, but the downbeat almost spoken vocal style and heavy washes of guitar twist your initial expectations and ‘Attention: This Is Your Conscience Speaking’ has a delicate and haunting riff amongst the dense noise which recalls the “Silent Hill” soundtracks. This mix of inspirations make them thankfully very hard to pin down, underneath the surface of poppy tunes a darker heart peeps through, one that’s laced with melancholy and complex layers. 11/13
High Voltage – August 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
A year on from Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds, Oxford’s Half Rabbits return more assured than ever. The Joy Division-esque vocals that dominated their last demo have given way to a more personal touch from Michael Weatherburn, and the music is as frighteningly insistent as ever.
‘This Changes Everything’ sets the scene perfectly: it’s loud and determined, and gives way seamlessly to ‘Louis’ Revenge’, a dark and vengeful tale that will stalk you for days. ‘Attention: This Is Your Conscience Speaking’ is a punkier affair, but doesn’t lose the hint of Interpol inspired murkiness or the drive that The Half Rabbits seem to possess in spades.
Their sights are set high, and rightly so; with a relentless shower of thrilling noise The Half Rabbits’ sound shows both maturity and intelligence unseen in the work of most bands.’ 4/5
Subba Cultcha – July 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
EP of the month
With the unnerving grandeur of Mogwai and last-rights sermon from a voice as haunting as Jim Morrison, mid-booze-fuelled poetry recital, the audience flowing like an ocean with the walls of guitar creating an astounding wave barrier, the intensity crashing each wave with stunning force… this is music that will change your life, you will love it…
UK Music Search – July 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
Imagining Ian Curtis fronting an emo band, The Half Rabbits are an intense four piece outfit who meld gloomy vocals to searing guitar thrusts and stabs. With the bands latest release, THE FINAL DAYS OF ROME; they create a sound that practically rips its way from your speakers. First up, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is an intense, epic statement of intent from the band; frontman Michael Weatherburn letting loose with a brooding croon whilst the rest of the band violently jerk and thrust their way through a post-hardcore guitar soundscape. The equally wired and tense sounding LOUIS’ REVENGE is another suitably intense and brooding affair that plays with the bands Joy Division meets Fugazi reference points whilst on ATTENTION: THIS IS YOUR CONSCIENCE SPEAKING, the Half Rabbits jerk and stab their way through another impressive sounding three and a half minutes. Shot through with a conviction that’s undeniable, THE FINAL DAYS OF ROME is the sound of The Half Rabbits offering up a masterclass in brooding intensity and twitchy post-hardcore guitar histrionics.
Nightshift – July 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
A thunderous wave of guitar fuzz, pounding drums and rumbling bass announces the return of The Half Rabbits with lead track, ‘This Changes Everything’, but immediately it’s singer Michael Weatherburn’s theatrically- wrought voice that takes centre stage, even as
the tumult surrounds and threatens to consume him. Steeped in an abrasively flamboyant musical tradition that runs from art-goths Bauhaus through to stadium grungers Smashing Pumpkins, The Half Rabbits revel in bluster while retaining a breathless intensity that never
lets up. Michael hollers about the end of the world on the lead track before crying out for vengeance on the bitter ‘Louis’ Revenge’. The wall-to-wall, four-to-the-floor squall and swirl of heavily-distorted guitars might serve to hide any cracks in the band’s melodic armoury but
when they’re firing it out with such vigour, you’re far too busy holding on tight to the handlebars to notice the decor.
Neon Buzz – July 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
Rock music has become somewhat of a taboo in our trilby and guitar obsessed charts of today, however rebelling against these current trends are The Half Rabbits. Their individuality starts with a unique line up of two girls and two boys and ends with their clear love for music. Passion is a trait that should ooze from every musicians orifice but bizarrely this love of making music has become “uncool” in today’s scene.
Gone are the days that Meatloaf stormed the charts with his dramatic approach to music but thankfully it seems this theatrical style has rubbed off on these lads and lasses originating from Oxford. Traditions are rarely kept nowadays in music so it’s refreshing to see a band who are successfully able to modernise a traditional song format. Their latest offering ‘This Changes Everything’ contains strong and able vocals that duck and dive between thrashing drums and haunting guitar riffs. A female touch is certainly noticeable in this track, and gladly so. The contrast between heavy masculine tones and the subtle yet distinct feminine style are two things that compliment each other perfectly.
This may not be able to keep the twang massive happy but it certainly fills a gap in the market for people who look forward to classic alternative rock, that was ever popular in the early 90’s, gaining the status it used to have
Rock Midgets – July 2007 – The Final Days Of Rome
After last year’s ‘Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds’, The Half Rabbits are back with this new collection of tempestuous grand scale indie. ‘This Changes Everything’ is something of a deceptive starter, thundering out of the stables, while ‘Louis’ Revenge’ takes a slightly more pondering, almost Wild West approach, and ‘Attention…’ takes more of a squally rock’n'roll approach. Scratching around somewhere between the ’80s pre-shoegaze pondering, yet layered with Michael Weatherburn’s sharp edged wry vocals, there’s something of a disorienting feel to The Final Days Of Rome. This is how Seafood might sound if they gave in to the dark side, and you know how difficult it is to resist that side of the force.
Tasty Fanzine – August 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
The last offering from Oxford’s Half Rabbits was one of my highlights of 2005 so this is another eagerly awaited release. And it doesn’t disappoint as it dishes out another sliver of The Half Rabbits strangely affected brand of indie rock. Not ones for whimsical subject matter or fey pop gestures, The Half Rabbits deliver a brooding, grown up version of ‘rock’ music in which Michael Weatherburns’s strange other worldly vocals provide the motif and the various members that make up this four-piece cross over in a magnificent cacophony of distortion underpinned by a strong dynamic. It’s as if every moment of every song is played as if it is their last and there is no room for slack or wasted space – the sound of four minds exploding with ideas.
Transparent Magazine – August 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
‘These Rumours’ begins with a heartline bass, strong, sexy and funky; it penetrates and dominates. Large guitars sound like a confused ball of paranoia set to explode and along with vocals that sound like an English Paul Banks the frenzied atmosphere builds. Second track ‘Someone’s Coming’ sounds different to the first, a more lighthearted track – or so it seems until the haunting bass line kicks in and it loses it’s safety net. The drums, guitars and harmonised vocals all build just to fall into a downward spiral that bring the song to a close.
Final track Playing With Fireworks is more about the drums than the previous two as the beat stops and starts abruptly during the chorus breaking any mould the verses have created, the sedated vocals still overshadow the tune talking of a dangerous love.
The Half Rabbits sell themselves well with this single and b-sides as each song has it’s own quality. The instruments can be reminiscent of We Are Scientists and Eastern Lane at times adopting two different approaches to rock.
Stacey Evans view article
Subba Cultcha – August 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
The moment that rumbling bass kicks in, you’re hooked – the rest is just gravy… the deep throbbing sounds counterbalanced with a quivering falsetto that unfolds into a menacing howl attaches itself to the core of your primal self, dragging the beast inside of you, out! Long live the beast (and the half rabbits!)
Oxfordbands.com – July 2006 – Truck Festival performance
The Half Rabbits suit the big stage. It’s heartening to see a band transform themselves from ineffective indie hopefuls to full blown big-time showsters, and this is their natural home. The opening is a dry ice maelstrom of noise with consistently strong vocals belting out amongst the cow smells. Their confidence underlines a committed work ethic, with some excellent guitar crafting and solid, powerful drumming. Vocalist Michael Weatherburn still has something of the Jim Morrison about him, but they sound nothing like The Doors. As an approximation, they’re more like Interpol and Editors mixing it with eighties gloom mongers The Bolshoi and The Chameleons. That their sound isn’t immediately easy to pin down is to their credit The Half Rabbits are very much a band out of time, doing things on their own terms. Long may it continue.
Maps – July 2006 – Truck Festival performance
Not to worry though, as coming up were one of the first bands on my list to see (having of course gone through my stage planner with a highlighter as soon as I’d arrived) – The Half Rabbits, whose bombastic quiet/loud tunes fitted the atmosphere perfectly. Frontman Michael Weatherburn belts out his lyrics and twists his guitar into intriguing shapes, barely visible behind the plumes of dry ice that are belching from a hyperactive smoke machine.
Paul Madden view article
Glasswerk – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
If Ian Curtis had outlived Joy Division, rather than the other way round, we might be more used to this kind of music by now. Instead, The Half Rabbits, along with Editors and Interpol, are a relatively rare breed.
Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds is a terrific little EP, bringing together three tracks similar enough to work well together yet different enough that no one would argue if each one was released as a single in its own right. Michael Weatherburn’s distinctive vocals are complemented well by the two girls and one guy who make up the Oxford quartet.
Opening track These Rumours shows that the band knows how to best use the talents of each of its members, building effortlessly towards a memorable chorus and drawing similarities with Interpol’s finest recording to date, Not Even Jail. Also at only four minutes it is more concise than many of the New Yorkers’ tracks, despite being the longest on this recording. On both this and Playing With Fireworks, Weatherburn has more influence than his bandmates, but this is not to say that there is a lack of variation on the EP.
One of the greatest compliments thrown the way of The Half Rabbits is that their electronic expertise is not overused. Even when the electronics dominate proceedings, as is the case with Someone’s Coming, the music doesn’t appear repetitive or short on ideas as is often the case with other bands. Rather, all aspects of the band’s sound can be separately picked out of the sub-four-minute track and all are faultless.
It is thanks to bands like The Half Rabbits that we are not complaining about the deluge of lightweight sub-indie bands and singer-songwriters who have begun to flood the charts, and they deserve the recognition which they have received.
Tom Victor view article
NuNuWorldMusic – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
The reoccurring theme throughout this EP is that of tension and darkness. While Michael Weatherburn sings in that unexpectedly deep voice of his, what really stands out is the bits between and underneath the singing. The lead track, ‘These Rumours’ sets the mood, with guitars working against each other slowing racking the tension higher and higher, building up to a final guitar battle at the end. This relentless approach continues in the rest of the EP. In the second track ‘Someone’s Coming’, Michael begins to fight back, and ends up singing as if trying to escape from a trapped room (or the clutches of the rest of his bandmates).
What ties the vocals and the guitars and all together are the remarkably strong songs. The bands that the Half Rabbits have often been compared to (Interpol, Editors et al) would have sold their souls for songs like these. If Interpol had this level of song writing, their albums would actually be listenable. So thank God the Half Rabbits have them instead.
Jill Faure view article
Rawkstar – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
When you’re presented with the words “emotive rock music” in front of your eyes, the mind does indeed wonder. For many these days, those three letters send shivers down what I can imagine as a wealth of muso’s backs – E-M-O. Was I sceptical about listening to this? Somewhat. But then taking a look at the bands The Half Rabbits have supported seemingly put my mind at ease; it’s basically a who’s who of upcoming and breakout indie acts with names such as The Cribs, The Young Knives and Komakino amongst many.
Claiming not only that they play emotive rock music, but that it is also dark and brooding, it is unfair to immediately think that The Half Rabbits are going to play pop riddled, sorrowful melodies in the same vein as The Crib’s “You Were Always The One”; a sweet and sour affair almost coated in too much sugar. This band play the sort of dour songs that you would normally associate with Interpol.
Michael Weatherburn (vocalist for The Half Rabbits) could be mistaken for the rather polite relative of Paul Banks on the opener “These Rumours”, while the subtle programming in the background of “Someone’s Coming” comes across like Carlos D’s first foray into using synths. “These Rumours” is easily one of the better opening songs to a demo I’ve heard recently – it’s a steadily paced number which builds into something monolithic, much like – surprise, surprise – Interpol’s “Slow Hands”.
Those pondering when I’m dropping in the reference to The Von Bondies should ponder know more. Take a listen to “Someone’s Coming” for it’s raucous guitar explosions stemming from palm muted moments of serenity, the formula used for The Von Bondies first album, “Lack of Communication”. There is a dirtiness to the production of the CD at times as well – something I enjoy personally but may not to be to every ones taste. The finale, “Playing With Fireworks”, amalgamates the two influences into the most emotive track on the CD, both lyrically and musically – if you’ve never been to a gig by The Half Rabbits, this is the track you could imagine them ending on; a well orchestrated, somewhat anthematic song that leaves you wanting more.
And it has. Coming off the strength of three songs, one can become easily excited what The Half Rabbits can achieve with the full backing of a larger record label and extensive coverage in magazines. The band offer something a little different to the mainstream indie machine we’re subjected to these days – just how the hell have The Half Rabbits have stayed off the indie radar is incredible! Rating: 8/10
Ben Jackson view article
Oxfordbands.com – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
Over the course of their handful of releases, The Half Rabbits have got progressively louder and more sinister-sounding as they embrace their darker aspects with vigour. sIt’s a direction that may have surprised many, but it has proved to be an inspired move. While the ‘Disclaimer’ EP nudged the band in this direction, ‘Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds’ takes a giant leap into the unknown. Which makes for a fantastic EP, albeit one that scares the living crap out of me on numerous occasions. That it does this is as much to do with Michael’s voice as the music. Speak to him off stage and then see him on and you’d wonder where on Earth that voice comes from. Gone are the days when there was a Tim Booth yodel that at times provided variation from a Jim Morrison style howl. Nowadays, there are no holds barred.
Lead track ‘These Rumours’ is the best thing on the EP, especially when the wall of guitars herald and persist through the chorus. The driving rhythm and spiralling guitars make for an incessant assault on the senses. Perhaps realising this, the band drop back at times to let you up for air.
‘Someone’s Coming’ is very much in the Doors mould, but cleverly infused with some spiky guitar in the verse, and a chorus which roars like a primal scream. ‘Playing With Fireworks’ is the lightest track musically. It’s a great addition to their canon, but following the previous two tracks comes as a slight disappointment. The dangers of setting high standards, I guess.
Russell Barker view article
High Voltage – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
Despite having toured with the likes of Editors, The Half Rabbits are more than your average post-punk influenced band. Lead track ‘These Rumours’, with its powerful refrain of “Fool yourself into thinking something”, may include vocals from Michael Weatherburn that hover slightly too close to Ian Curtis territory, but the solid, insistent drumbeat and layers of intriguingly confused noise prove to be well worth the listen.
‘Someone’s Coming’ shows The Half Rabbits taking their queue from rock greats Queens Of The Stone Age with a driving force endlessly pushing forwards; dirty riffs contrasting with interludes of short, sweet guitar. What presides through all three tracks here is brilliantly chaotic noise, chaotic because no part fades into the background, and quite rightly so.
Hannah Bayfield view article
UK Music Search – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
Not straying too far from the post Joy Division template set down by bands like Interpol, Editors and The Departure, The Half Rabbits are another group dealing in brooding bass lines, jerky guitar stabs and intense vocal deliveries.
Singer Michael Weatherburn does his best darkly monotone Ian Curtis impressions whilst the band throb and thrust their way through three intense sounding slices of jerky post-punk on their TINY KNIVES FOR TINY MINDS single. Lead track THESE RUMOURS bristles in a wired and tense kind of way, erupting guitar lines and the odd infectious melody managing to catch the ear. Elsewhere, SOMEONE’S COMING and PLAYING WITH FIREWORKS riff on the same ideas, though its hard to shake the feeling that Interpol and Editors have already mined the same musical ground with arguably more impressive and explosive results already.
A decent sounding trio of songs here, TINY KNIVES FOR TINY MINDS may find The Half Rabbits dealing in sounds you’ve heard many times before, but its done with a conviction thats undeniable. Fans of Editors and Interpol may find themselves experiencing a strange sense of deja vu here, but for more of the same dark, brooding pop menace of either of those bands, The Half Rabbits offer up a decent alternative.
Mike Bond view article
Cool Noise – July 2006 – Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds
Todays highly recommended lesser known band was easy. I just opened my mail and there it was: Tiny Knives For Tiny Minds an EP by The Half Rabbits. Three tracks of very confident Indie rock. Great songs, insistent guitar work and rhythmic variation. You can hear the swagger in the singer’s voice and it really is a voice that warrants a big swagger with its power and depth. Certainly made my night.
Dare I even mention that they are from Oxford (where I currently reside) so I think I might even have a reason for leaving the house one evening.
Cool Noise view article
Oxfordbands.com – October 2005 – Vertigo Gig
I’d be very surprised if anyone reading this reviewing hasn’t seen The Half Rabbits live over the past couple of years, so I won’t waste space describing their music again. No matter how many times I go to see them though, I never expect that voice to come out of Michael; a strange thing to say, perhaps, given the amount it’s written about in reviews of them. However, all the oooh-doesn’t-he-sound-like-Morrison talk has served to detract from the personality of his voice. He’s not trying to sound like Morrison; he’s just singing strongly, controlling a pretty thunderous guitar sound, dominating the stage and all-in-all being the consummate frontman of a band which is in its entirety an elegant and impressive package. There is little justice in the world if The Half Rabbits don’t go on to bigger and better things.
Daniel Mitchell view article
Heathen Angel – September 2005 – Disclaimer
The Half Rabbits are a two boy/two girl band from Oxford and much like their name, they are a hybrid. Anyone expecting soft, cuddly and cutesy folk or pop will be sorely disappointed and shocked as The Half Rabbit mate moody indie with dark rock. Imagine Interpol with a hard rock fixation and you are on the right path to THR’s sound. Throw in some Eno era Bowie, Radiohead and Muse, and you have a rich musical cocktail of influences.
Each of the six tracks is written and arranged in such a way as to keep you on your toes with the many avenues surprising the listener. Ever changing tempos and dynamics mean that you are never quite sure which path a song is about to take. Frequently, you expect the song to be coming to a climax but instead a new riff pops up and takes the song off in a new direction.
Michael Weatherburn’s vocals come across as a mixture of Jim Morrison and Interpol’s Paul Banks and feature prominently on each song, adding further darkness to the brooding instrumentation which itself swings from ethereal gentleness to full on distorted howling and screeching. ‘Disclaimer’ is probably not a CD which will immediately grab most people on the first listen just because there is so much going on that you’ll be aurally disorientated but repeated spins uncover a dark but intriguing and compelling depth to the music. So much so there is good chance you’ll keep coming back for more and will still find something you hadn’t notice before.
By all accounts, THR are creating a buzz around Oxford and have supported a plethora of up and coming talent including The Duke Spirit, The Paddingtons, the Cribs and, a band after their own hearts, Editors amongst others. With fanzines and even Radio 1 lavishing praise at their feet, expect labels and A&R men to be sniffing around THR very soon if they are not already. In the meantime, ‘Disclaimer’ is a must listen if you like your music dark, disturbing, brooding and edgy.
Scott Brown view article
Joyzine – August 2005 – Disclaimer
Disclaimer is the new mini-album from the cut-throat Oxford four piece, The Half Rabbits. Formed in September of 2002, it is reported they are making ‘waves’ in their native Oxford, where the kids seem to be going nuts for them and doing the swim at their gigs. It sounds like the A+R guys are waiting in the wings, ready to take them to dinner and put their hand on their collective knee, look into their eyes and tell them they are going to make them into stars. Listening to this release, it seems it is justified.
With frenetic guitar work and swathes of aggressive and delicate textures, these tracks are perilous at times. This six track CD has already, on many points, national potential, but it still feels like a warm up for greater things.
For those of you who cannot stand Muse’s self-aggrandising and epic temperament, but admit a soft spot for their electric machinations, and love Interpol’s sinister eyebrow’s, this maybe the new band for you. The Half Rabbits have an intense, driven dexterity that produces a heady charge that at times stuns. The musicality and interplay of the principal instruments reminds you of early Talking Heads if they had of really dug Black Sabbath.
The first three tracks are blistering, are excellent and are sure to end up on their debut album. The next two, ‘Rope’ and ‘Nil’, slacken as they seem suffocated. This in itself is not a bad thing, but they are not as realised as the initial three tracks. While the closing track, ‘Quiet Ones’, brings it round nicely, it never matches the sheer flexing of muscles that marked the opening of this mini-album.
All the tunes on this release are intense, and when it works it is utterly convincing. On the other hand, when it does not, it can leave the music seem stuck in an aggressive pose that is supposed to stand for passion and Joy Division-esque darkness, but ends up seeming contrived. That the bar though, has been set at such a level by only themselves, is the reason these tracks do not have the same impact. It is good for The Half Rabbits that already they are being judged by their own excellence. I do, however, feel they will to need develop a broader palette of tones apart from the well-worn apocalyptic suburban death knell boogie feel.
Bar that, buy this and you will witness the germ of a potentially significant band.
Alun McKeever view article
Glasswerk – August 2005 – Disclaimer
A couple of years ago there was a real buzz surrounding a new breed of bands coming out of Oxford, with bands like Meanwhile..Back in Communist Russia and the mighty Rock of Travolta touring in a pack, generating the hype. The Half Rabbits pick up where they left off, and have been relentlessly gigging, earning accolades from Rolling Stone and Drowned in Sound.
‘Disclaimer’ follows their debut ’3 songs’ EP, and is a blast of noise, much more intense than I had anticipated, for some reason expecting some acoustic folk-ness to saunter out the speakers. It was a shock to hear ‘Evolution’ flare out, setting the tone for the E.P, with its heavy assault of drums and guitar. ‘Magnet Mountain’s’ slower start kicks in and reveals where the Muse comparisons lie, followed by ‘Fast Breeder Reactor’. Singer Michael Weatherburn’s much discussed voice is more prominent here, not hidden amongst the guitars, resulting in the highlight of the E.P. This track’s very immediate and the quick succession of ‘Rope’ maintains the pace, with its concentrated drum machine and pretty guitar, and the addition of an intense Ian Curtis-esq. vocal, with the music building and swelling underneath. ‘Nil’, the most obvious Jim Morrison vocal comparison here, is a mix of rock and bass heavy danceable beats cutting in and around the voice. E.P closer ‘Quiet Ones’ builds into a good ol’ rock out with it’s steady guitars and drums, an effective breakdown in the middle, before layering up again. Shame about the annoying echoey end though.
Weatherburns voice is dark and brooding and carries throughout the songs. It’s a bizarre hybrid of Jim Morrison, Interpol’s Paul Banks and late nineties Darkstar and works well amongst the layers of sound. For once this is a band with something to say, and their lyrics transmit effectively and are perfectly suited to the powerful vocals.
This is a neat collection of six very individual tracks, but flowing together so you’re not aware of each as a separate article. The songs are a mix of heavy rock, and more dance beats, which definitely intrigue enough to find out more. The Half Rabbits are of course playing live again shortly [link], and it will be well worth catching them.
Sarah Clementson view article
Drowned In Sound – July 2005 – Truck Festival
Definitely full of promise. They don’t look 100% lively but then for 11 on a Sunday morning we can forgive them, their indie/art rock with a twist comes over well.
Andrew Farley view article
SoundsXP – July 2005 – Truck Festival
We seek cover and watch The Half Rabbits, who are part post-rock noiseniks, part doomy indie kids in the Interpol/Editors mode. They’re worth catching as a support act if you see them around (they’ve played with the likes of Editors, House of Love and the Paddingtons).
Ged M view article
Joyzine – July 2005 – Truck Festival
Pack-a-mak binned and well and truly soaked, I sniffle towards the Trailerpark tent with a nice cup of tea to catch my first band of the day, The Half Rabbits. This lot had sent their cd in for review recently, and it had shown enough promise that I was quite looking to seeing them in the flesh. Fortunately, they don’t disappoint, fusing frenetic guitars and post punk rhythms with Michael Weatherburn’s distinctive vocal to create a sound that falls somewhere around The Pixies and Sonic Youth’s more accessible moments.
Paul Madden view article
The Cherwell – June 2005 – Vertigo gig
On paper The Cellar doesn’t seem a brilliant venue: it is underground, the ceilings are low and by 10pm it is hotter than the sun. But it takes more than these quibbles to hold the indie kids down. Vertigo kicks off with local and student bands, before IMSoc members take over as DJs. St Catz favourites Spare Half Hour are first up, and steadfastly refuse to let the early billing slow them down. Their set fuses funky bass lines, occasional piano and energetic guitars, topped with Trevor Wood’s enthusiastic vocals. The songs are sometimes a little predictable, but their pop sensibilities go down well with the audience. Most importantly, they are musically tight, and play with a confidence born of much rehearsal. Expect to see more of them in the near future, and further up the bill.
Battle of the Bands finalists We The Starling are an altogether darker outfit, using stop-start riffs and jagged guitar sounds. Over this backdrop Alice Gavin’s vocals are sultry and sometimes spiky, but well suited to the sharp dynamic changes. Again the band’s songs are honed, but their performance is a little lacklustre. Without much energy going into stage presence WTS become repetitive, and the audience is left interested but not excited. That said, set-closer Architecture is a definite highlight and a sign of what the band are capable of.
By 10.30pm the club is filling up, and the only non-student band of the night,The Half Rabbits, take the stage. In a fantastic set, frontman Michael Weatherburn shakes frenetically, while still managing to hammer out complex guitar riffs. The band’s extensive gigging is reflected in their mature performance, and they slip effortlessly from one song into the next with the ease of consummate professionals. Aggressive and tuneful, loud without lacking subtly, The Half Rabbits are a band with a rare combination of skill and confidence. They’ve been around the Oxford scene for a few years now, earning some critical admiration, but a string of EPs and support slots at The Zodiac leaves them poised on the verge of bigger things. Whether they are capable of the final push still remains to be seen.
When the band finishes the stage is quickly cleared, and the club night starts in earnest. Converse trainers shuffle about, IMSoc members take turns at the decks and everyone craves air conditioning. Yet the main purpose of the night was undoubtedly to exhibit some of Oxford’s finest bands, and the three acts tonight did not fail to impress. This was a great night for those who enjoy discovering new music at its roots.
Drowned In Sound – May 2005 – Disclaimer
It’s been an interesting year for Oxford-based four piece The Half Rabbits, featuring as it has a Rolling Stone front cover, an appearance on Smalltown America’s Public Broadcast 6 compilation and the BBC declaring themselves “smitten”. Not bad feedback, stemming as it did from one self-released EP. Follow-up release ‘Disclaimer’, a six-song mini-album, has a lot to live up to.
It’s fortunate, then, that it’s rather good. Though the Muse references are obvious, and there’s an occasional nod in the direction of Radiohead, ‘Disclaimer’ is very much its own record. There’s a swagger and righteousness to it, but it’s saved from appearing cocksure by the songs’ disconnected and stuttering style. Full of disconcerting flickers and flashes, it’s attention deficit music: an aural strobe light flickering and stumbling over a mad scientist-esque bubbling of noises and effects, leaping from one idea to another so abruptly that no one tune has a chance to outstay its welcome. The music loops and whorls under a deep crooning vocal; stumbling and lurching through unexpected mood-shifts and crescendos, occasionally pausing for breath before spiralling downwards again.
With the impossible-to-ignore volume and insistence of someone hammering a point home and a dark, foreboding compulsiveness, Disclaimer is a most impressive slab of twisted post-rock. The only problem is: how on earth do The Half Rabbits top last year’s achievements? I await their solution with bated breath…
Tasty Fanzine – May 2005 – Disclaimer
This record has nearly got me in trouble this month. The reason for my predicament is that it is so good that I keep listening to it instead of reviewing the also-rans.
This two guy, two girl four piece from Oxford verge on the dark side of guitar noise pop but cram in more hooks and riffs per song than your average Joe fits onto a whole album. This bestows epic proportions to each track yet not one song goes over five minutes. A bit like a sonic TARDIS if you will. Every time you think the track is ending another searing riff kicks into play.
Lead singer Michael Weatherburn possesses a highly charismatic voice that rightly garners a lot of attention from reviewers. Not just a withering doleful Jim Morrison soundalike, I think there’s a lot more to it than that. On ‘Evolution’ I reckon there are more growly blues tones similar to Mark Lanegan of The Screaming Trees. But this is by no means a one man band. The sound is chaotic, frenetic, orchestral, confused and brilliant, a combination of all the band members playing at the very top of their game.
This is how I want We Will Be Pilots to sound. This is how I want everyone to sound. One more spin methinks…
Oxfordbands.com – May 2005 – The Punt Gig
One of the venues of the night in pure punters-through-the-door terms, with the eager and the earnest queuing up the stairs and craning their necks round the door to catch a glimpse.
Anyone who’s seen The Half Rabbits will know what to expect – hugely improved from even this time six months ago, they’re rapidly ascending to become one of the best bands we’ve got to offer. Michael Weatherburn’s impressive baritone and unrestrained stage presence are the obvious focal point, but look beneath the surface and there’s much more to be had. Chris Rant’s guitar lines are frequently minimal but offer a considered counterpoint to Michael’s blustering chord-play, while Sally Pelling and Alice Watanabe aren’t just a solid rhythm section, but one which lifts the songs along effortlessly on the occasions where they might otherwise drag. Expect to see a series of rabbit puns or the hailing of the next big post-new-wave-indie-rock in the pages of the NME before too long.
Drowned In Sound – March 2005 – Public Service Broadcast 6
Any band named The Half Rabbits ought to be a folk band. No, really: it’s the law. What they actually are, however, is a staticy bleepy cut ‘n’ paste aural assault of crunching notes, synth effects and howling wind tunnel noises.
Nightshift – Feb 2005 – Wheatsheaf Gig
That The Half Rabbits have been acclaimed as the best new band in town by many, but tonight are being called the worst Oxford band he’s ever heard by one prominent local promoter, only goes to prove that extreme reactions are the best thing a band can hope for. From the stylised Bowie vocals to the Chameleons guitar spangle, The Half Rabbits dig into pop’s gothic past and to hell with the consequences. Always an inch away from collapsing into chaos, they exist in a time before indie became a hook for major labels to hang any old guitar-based toss on. In love with such days, Nightshift hears echoes of The Banshees, The Cure and even, bizarrely, Fad Gadget in the echoing funnels of sound. And goes home happy.
Nightshift – Nov 2004 – Disclaimer
This being proper indie pop land, you virtually have to wrestle the CD out of the fancy, limited-edition, hand-made casing. And this being proper indie pop land, the music inside is oddly shaped, cuddly in a spiky, bite-your-fingers kind of way. The Half Rabbits sound like the sort of arty, obstinate denizens of dark SU bar corners that used to make up the UK’s alternative music scene, rather than the workaday sub-Beatles/Radiohead/Jeff Buckley broth that nowadays gets labelled as indie without anyone standing up and throwing grenades and screaming to be given its soul back and all A&R men and major label accountants to be thrown into a live volcano.
Drawing together disparate threads of noise from punk, new wave and the first wave of goth, The Half Rabbits manage the trick of sounding both out on a limb on today’s pop tree, and something lost in time from anywhere between now and 1978. Michael Weatherburn’s rounded, slightly gravely snarl (kind if Jim Morrison-meets-Pete Murphy) leads the charge on songs like ‘Evolution’, but the disjointed crunch of guitar and bass and the simple, snapping rhythms play neat tricks without ever getting fancy ideas.
The fact that the band, two boys and two girls, even look like they just got sucked down a time tunnel from a mid-80s NME photo shoot only fuels the feeling that they’re out of time and on their own. It’s the best way to be and The Half Rabbits have worked harder than most this year to reach the level they’re at now. On the strength of this EP, they won’t look back.
Nightshift – Nov 2004 – Port Mahon
The Half Rabbits are tonight supporting their recent EP release, ‘Disclaimer’, and if this performance is anything to go by, they could well be one of the most talked about bands this coming year. First song, ‘Evolution’, is a stunner, it takes the Doors ‘Unknown Soldier’ and fuses it into Joy Division. Vocalist Michael Weatherburn’s voice is uncannily like Jim Morrison’s, a fact reinforced by the music pumping away behind him. Half Art School, half Brit Pop; Half Rabbits have hit on a sound which is electrifying.
Not only that but they perform these songs with an uncompromising glee which is positively contagious. At times it feels like the rhythm section is about to fall apart completely, which adds a fragile edge to the songs as they are pulled along by Weatherburn’s voice and guitar. They have it all, youth, songs to kill for, and flawed genius, welcome to your new favourite local band.
Oxfordbands.com – Nov 2004 – Disclaimer
As their records get longer, this being a six track mini-album, so The Half Rabbits submerge themselves deeper into the dark side. Their intentions are stated early on with the swirling psychosis of ‘Evolution”s chorus, offset by the jagged verses that grind their way into your consciousness. Now, a lot’s been said about how much Michael can sound like Jim Morrison at times, and while it’s a worthy comparison, it’s worth remembering how well he carries it off and the weight of the mighty tunes that beneath it.
‘Magnet Mountain’ offers the other side of the Half Rabbits; it’s moody and atmospheric, like one of the vastly underrated James songs circa Laid. ‘Fast Breeder Reactor’ starts with a twinkling intro before Michael’s guttural roar comes in and kicks the song to life. Drums roll and then accelerate the song away from the chorus before an epic guitar ending. It finally comes back to the start with a reprise of the intro.
‘Rope’ offers a move away from the rock side, with an atmospheric tune lifted upon skittering electro beats. A perky guitar line begins a tug of war over the tune, which is won back by the synthesised sounds. Never has a song been more aptly named than ‘Nil’. Check the lyrics – ‘pacing the streets like a fucking zero’ and ‘crushed by a world that’s supposed to be my friend’. That’s despair for you. The tune itself only accentuates the feeling; you can almost envisage the storm clouds gathering as the spiralling guitar chillingly pierces the heart of the song. This song has the potential to be as disturbing as ‘Helter Skelter’. All aboard for the seventh circle. The mini album is concluded in sparkling form with ‘Quiet Ones’. Those who’ve seen the Half Rabbits recently will be familiar with the explosive live versions of these songs: now they’re yours to take home. Make sure you do.
Russell Barker view article
BBC – November 2004 – Port Mahon CD Launch
The Half Rabbits. We walk in during their first song and stand amazed for the next half an hour. The heat of the Port is making the crowd sweat and the band almost melt, Michael’s microphone stand bends slowly down during each song leaving him struggling to reach, the band can’t hear themselves, but we can, so it’s ok.
They play all songs from the ‘Disclaimer’ mini album (not surprising as it’s the ‘launch’) and songs from previous EP ’3 Songs’. ‘Rope’ is magnificent, although not a stand out, as each track seems as good as its’ predecessor.
Chris’ Muse-like guitars scratch and squeal through the night and Alice’s bass throbs in the background complimenting the almost melancholic vocal, it’s all too much!
I’m told I’m almost too nice in these reviews and at the risk of being repetitive, The Half Rabbits are worthy of every word I’ve written. Each person I’ve taken to one of their gigs has come away gushing praise, CD in hand, but don’t take my word for it. See them… hear them… before the world catches on.
Joe Beasley view article
BBC – November 2004 – Disclaimer
Each time I listen to the Half Rabbits I hear a multitude of influences and each time the influences are different. “Disclaimer” could be mistaken for Interpol covering Suede songs, but the truth of the matter is, they’re like no one else.
Live favourite of mine; “Evolution” kicks off the 6-track CD with screeching guitars and a chorus to rival the quirky brilliance of ’3 Songs’. The stand out song ‘Spooked’, progresses into a splendid plodding finale working smoothly into next track ‘Magnet Mountain’. The band have the potential to be so very ‘in’, though their songs could have been written 20 years ago they could also waltz onto Radio 1 tomorrow and seem immense in their originality.
Of course, I pressed play expecting to be blown away, wanting to be bowled over by the Oxford four-piece and unsurprisingly I have been shocked by one fact; The Half Rabbits have grown even more, there’s both beauty and anger in this music, suggesting innovation and intelligence beyond their years.
They toy with a synth in ‘Fast Breeder Reactor’ which, along with the graceful backing of Alice on bass and backing vocals, makes for great listening. ‘Rope’ and ‘Nil’ follow with style and ‘Quiet Ones’ closes the CD excellently, Michael’s voice making a good song into an astounding one.
The launch gig is swiftly approaching and with all the whisperings in both local and national media I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last time you’ll see them here. Michael, Chris, Alice and Sally deserve the attention of the world. Miss them at your peril.
Joe Beasley view article + audio interview
Nightshift – Oct 2004 – Cellar Gig
Imagine if carpenters were treated like rock musicians. Every year a dozen or so would find suddenly themselves being driven to TV studios in limousines to get asked yet again why their dovetails are so great; about the hungry years hanging around Powell’s looking for cut-offs, and how they owe it all to their woodwork teacher. Meanwhile, their contemporaries look on, trading stories of the band-saws they used to share.
The Half Rabbits’ hard work is starting to pay off. The gigs are coming in thick and fast and interest locally and even internationally is building. Their key strength is an unusual, epic quality to their music, even though it is often restrained and understated. ‘Spooked’, from the new EP, gets right inside your head and refuses to leave, with a bassline that meanders around like a fly in a room and a haunting, dream-like vocal. People have raised The Doors as a comparison, but early Banshees may be closer to the mark. Songwriter Michael Weatherburn has a voice capable of great subtlety and curious, if rather impenetrable, lyrics, while it’s not easy to pin down exactly what makes the band so interesting. This could be a problem if a major label was planning a marketing campaign for them; they don’t follow on naturally from any current Big Thing. They look cool though; female drummers used to be as rare as high heels at Glastonbury, but Sally Pelling ably proves that some rock’n'roll customs are nothing to be proud of. They sound more experienced than their two-year pedigree and really deserve to be headlining, not kicking off, tonight’s bill.
Oxford Home for Music – Sept 2004 – The Zodiac
Michael’s voice veers between the psychosis of Jim Morrison and the yodels of Tim Booth, yet this unlikely combination of styles works surprisingly well and at least means his vocalisms are distinctive. The band are also previewing some new stuff which they’re currently recording and which all fits nicely into the set. If you know the Half Rabbits then you’ll know ‘Spooked’ from the last EP, which is eerie and creepy and reminds at least me of elements of the Cult of ‘Love’ era. This is a set of guitar pop with that special edge; the little twinkle or odd styling that sets it apart from the crowd. A band not as straightforward as you’d initially think, I recommend you let them challenge your senses sometime.
Russell Barker view article
BBC – August 2004 – Port Mahon Gig
Port Mahon. It’s a lovely little venue, but the heat is enough to melt gold. However I’ll sweat my way through this evening’s performance and do my best to avoid looking like the Half Rabbits’ first stalker.
It seems I’m the official cheerleader for the Half Rabbits, yet again I’m watching the indie genius and enjoying it. Recently mistyped masterpiece ‘Spooked’ is as good as always but there’s a song to rival its brilliance this evening in the form of what I can only assume is a song called ‘Revolution’. The new track is twice as catchy and ten times as interesting as anything else we hear tonight and Alice’s sultry tones add to an already magnificent tune.
With every performance they improve and they have an innovative, talented singer and a lovely lady bassist too.
Joe Beasley view article
BBC – August 2004 – Zodiac Gig
Having seen Half Rabbits earlier this week with about thirty people, I was expecting a family and friends ordeal tonight, how wrong I was! Walking in after the first bands set due to my poor time keeping, I am shocked and impressed to find many people have made the trip to the Cowley Road for tonight’s festivities.
Watership Down, a film about talking rabbits, has nothing on The Half Rabbits who can sing and play instruments, Bright Eyes my arse.
Since his performance at The Hobgoblin in Bicester, vocalist Michael seems to have grown a stage persona. He wheels around gunning down band mates with his guitar and stares to the skies as he croons his delicately crafted songs.
This is a performance to rival any I’ve seen in recent weeks, songs such as Spooks and Positive Mental Attitude (both available on latest release ’3 Songs’) give the impression that The Half Rabbits have been around for years, perfecting this sound and style. I stand by what a said mere days ago, “this is genius”. Bright eyes, burning like fire, bright eyes, how can you close and fail? Yep… The Half Rabbits are definitely better than Watership Down!
Joe Beasley view article
BBC Radio 1 – August 2004 – 3 Songs
There is something rather endearing about The Half Rabbits – and it isn’t just their peculiar name. ‘Spooked’ has an ethereal, otherworldly quality that makes it hard to pin down. Ultimately this is for those who like their music a little off the beaten track.
BBC – August 2004 – Rocks, Hobgoblin, Bicester
For locals the opportunity to enjoy good live music in Bicester is indescribably joyous. There are, at most, twenty people in the building on arrival, including band members and staff, lucky people, the music is starting!
The Half Rabbits are first on, playing to a mere handful of Bicester folk, not that it matters, this is genius! Vocalist Michael Weatherburn is the newest member of the Ian Curtis Influence Club (ICIC© for short), which is by no means a bad thing!
Mr Weatherburn also plays a kind of screeching guitar that Muse’s Matt Bellamy made famous and is without doubt a potential star in the same league.
The Half Rabbits’ sound is currently in fashion, fitting nicely along side The Killers, but with a far better name, surely it can’t be long until NME are lynching them and devilling their collective body.
Joe Beasley view article
Leakedalbums.com – 25/07/04 – Public Service Broadcast #4
If you visit smalltownamerica.co.uk it will immediately tell you that good music needs to be heard. What an admirable statement and honourable in this day and age. This is a compilation of bands that have donated a track for exposure and with a view to helping other bands out. it’s a non-profit venture. If you do one good deed this week, month or year then go ut and buy this record. Forget helping old ladies across the street or feeding stray animals think of all the great bands you could discover.
Bands like FIGHTING WITH FIRE, SCHOOL FOR THE DEAD, THE MONO EFFECT and SANTO EL DIABLO. There are some real gems to be heard. Bit of metal, bit of punk, bit of Rock ‘n’ Roll, bit of the other. There are bands like FIGHTING WITH FIRE who are part Smashing Pumpkins part Husker Du yet still original and fresh. SCHOOL FOR THE DEAD who will fit in to any Smiths fans record collection nicely.
If you like Alex Kaprano’s voice then check out THE HALF RABBITS Or the check out the crazy Japanese sounding, Norwich band HYPER KINAKO Weird but anything that sounds like the music from the Micro Machines games has to be good. I thought SOMA might be a Strokes tribute band or something in that vain but I was terribly wrong.
There’s a lot to digest here but its all worth checking out especially if your open-minded and alert.
Robert McNamara view article
Oxfordbands.com – July 2004 – Three Songs
A few months back, The Half Rabbits were the victims of one of the most comically underprepared interviewers yet thrown up by the Oxford scene, so it’s extra important that I get this review right, or the band may start thinking we’ve all got it in for them.
Of the unimaginatively-titled ‘Three Songs’, the first offering ‘Spooked’ is, at least melodically, streets ahead of the others, being a genuinely creepy distillation of paranoia and claustrophobia. The musical expression of this includes an artfully off-key guitar intro leading into a riff which is a second cousin of that used in Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, and over which Michael Weatherburn’s nervy vocals make perfect sense. Weatherburn’s vocal style, drawing heavily on the Madchester school, is an acquired taste, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else providing the blend of false bravado and understated fear that the song needs.
Top marks also go to the musicianship, arrangement and production, which have all progressed speedily since we last encountered the Rabbits. I particularly liked the subtle countermelodies of the middle section (whose basic riff is the spit of ‘Pandora’s Box’ by Procol Harum. It’s not plagiarism, though – I doubt whether Weatherburn is old or unhip enough to know much about late-period Procol, so I’ll let him off. This time.). However, the song isn’t a total success – the verse and chorus are rather samey and the lyrics are a disappointment, especially after the sporadic excellence of ‘Satellite’, from their previous EP. Most of the lyric is simply a series of rather obvious antitheses, which go a long way to rendering innocuous the danger palpable in the music: ‘I’m neither here nor there/ I don’t know when or where/ I’m neither yes or no/ Something else must go.’
After all this atmosphere comes a blast of unsubtle aggression. ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ is a hard-rocking number with some rather brilliant rhythm section work and squally guitars, but it’s also more generic than ‘Spooked’. I’m not convinced that Weatherburn is a rock singer – his baritone croon sits oddly with the wigging-out metal guitar stuff. And the non-existence of a really good tune as well as the sludginess of the overall sound in places renders the song pretty unmemorable. The band returns to the more spacious, edgy world of ‘Spooked’ in the closer, ‘How Right You Are’. Set to a doomy tom-tom figure, the portentous vocal conjures up an apocalyptic vision, which possesses a clear political content. This is made explicit by the inclusion of newsreel footage describing anti-war protests – a tired gambit used more than thirty years ago in Simon and Garfunkel’s ’7 o-clock news/Silent Night’. It was cheesy then, and it’ s cheesy now.
This miscalculation is a shame, as the song on the whole has a beautiful, dreamlike feel, evocative at times of certain scenes in the cult film Donnie Darko, as much for its hallucinogenic, demonic quality as its debt to eighties guitar bands. The Half Rabbits’ work, then, is uneven, but nearly always interesting. In ‘Spooked’, they have a corking tune, while the other two numbers are flawed but fine in places. Half Rapid, Half Vapid, you might even say.
Colin MacKinnon view article
RollingStone.com – 27/05/04 – 3 Songs
Moody drone pop is alive and well in the fuzzy little paws of the Half Rabbits, whose 3 Songs demo is highlighted by off-kilter guitar swoon and singer/guitarist Michael Weatherburn’s dark Morrison-esque baritone. Expect great things when they become Full Rabbits.
Jason Cohen & Michael Krugman view article
Oxford Home for Music – June 2004 – Gappy Tooth Industries Night, The Zodiac
The Half Rabbits are next up. Last time I saw them, I think I made very similar comments about them as I have about Barnabus above. In the interim they have grown in stature, and produced a quite wonderful set, far superior to any performance I have seen from them previously. Michael’s performance tonight was inspired and inspiring, marking him out as one of Oxford’s top frontmen. Michael grabbed their songs and drove them to a higher level than they had achieved in their recent “Three Songs” EP; he has a strong voice, and his stage presence is growing performance by performance.
Everything about the band, from their name to their website suggest simpering indie, but they are most definitely not that: everything has spikes and edges, hooks and euphoric choruses, melodies and most importantly heart. The closest comparison I can think of is Elbow; there’s the same darkness, the same concealed rage. An exceptional performance.
BBC – 01/06/04 – Gappy Tooth Industries night, The Zodiac
The Half Rabbits are tonight’s sensation. The songs bristle with life and sparkle and they have a truly great singer. Michael’s voice is equal parts Jim Morrison and Tim Booth, though thankfully not at the same time. Add to this some lovely guitar parts, great thunka-thunka bass and Sally’s driving drums and you have something special. Ok, so it may be indie rock, but it’s not prepared to be weighed down by the leaden feet of that genre, instead preferring to twist and pirouette across the stage. The highlight of the set is when they play tracks from their latest EP, ’3 Songs’. It may well be that this is because it’s the only one of their CDs I own but the songs still stand head and shoulders above the rest of the set. And this itself is no mean feat given the high standard of the other songs. Oh hell, just go see them or buy their EP, if you’re not impressed I’ll personally refund your money.
Russell Barker view article
Drowned in Sound – 21/01/04 – 3 Songs
I don’t know what it is about the city of Oxford but aside from having visions of politicians’ sons in boater hats reading the whole of St John’s epistles in Latin whilst queuing for a game of croquet, I’ve always felt there was something deeply suspicious going on musically too – a Yorke-ian conspiracy perhaps? (Can anyone remember The Unbelievable Truth? No. Good).
What we have here are three songs by Oxford four piece The Half Rabbits, and while there is no doubting that the spirit of Radiohead probably lies somewhere in their make-up, ’3 Songs’ owes more to the eccentric English songwriting of Blur and the complicated rhythms of System Of A Down than anything their fellow homeboys have ever bestowed upon us.
In singer/songwriter Michael Weatherburn, The Half Rabbits have their own modern day Syd Barrett, a Bowie for the Reality TV generation whose lucid tones light up the gentle melody of ‘Spooked’ and turn it into ‘The Man Who Fell To….Abingdon’ accordingly.
Whilst I’m not too struck on the band’s name – probably because I’m unsure if the ‘Half’ refers to sawing some poor bunny in two or some bizarre cross-breeding process only performed in Didcot – but there’s no mistaking that if they continue to knock out such haunting moments as the aforementioned ‘Spooked’ or ‘How Right You Are’, their time will come pretty soon.
Dom Gourlay view article
Oxford Home for Music – May 2004 – Interview
More Rabbit than Sainsburys – Alistair has a chat with The Half Rabbits
Good day to you dear reader. The following is an attempt to get a feel of the interview I conducted with The Half Rabbits on 8th April. I can’t write very fast, so there only a couple of direct quotes. Now read on…
I endeavoured to conduct an interview with a band I had only ever three songs by, never seen live and only had a chance to look at their website about an hour before hand. This would be interesting, so long as I could remember what they looked like. Thankfully my memory pervaded and I launched into some pitifully vague questions that would hopefully garner an insight into the group’s mind. “Err, so how would you describe yourselves?” I croaked, mopping the uneasy sweat from my brow. I could almost hear the metaphorical shotguns being cocked.
For those of you even more ignorant to the band, I should explain that The Half Rabbits are a four piece that have been performing with their current line up since August of 2002. Alice Watanabe supplies bass, Chris Rant guitar, Sally Pelling drums, while Michael Weatherburn writes, sings and plays guitar too. For a group who have only been together just over a year and a half they have been remarkably prolific. They have played gigs all across the South of England and self released three EPs so far; 2002′s The Half Rabbits, the Satellite EP early last year and Three Songs at the end of 2003. The last of these produced by Lee ‘Smilex’ Christian, is available from HMV and from the band directly via their website. The three songs themselves are quite hard to describe, hence my initial question.
“A four piece rock band,” is Michael’s eventual response. “Listen to the CD and see what you think”. My fears of impending doom subside somewhat. He’s right. The band’s sound falling somewhat outside your general indie or pop acts, but without being self consciously arty enough to fall into the increasingly gaping hole that post rock is becoming. Michael’s Bowie inflected vocals, combined with post-psychedlic, Barrett inflected music, comes together into a heady brew that calls to mind The Doors in places, Primal Scream in others with seemingly little effort. Their sound is their own and it would take a bigger man than I to properly pin it down. Relaxing a little more, I decided to flex out another question.
“So who would you say influences you?” God what was I thinking? I realise that I’ve just asked the second worst question that you can of the creative mind. The band are gracious with responses to my conversational faux pas, reeling out names varying wildly from The Mars Volta, through Clapton, Hendrix to Larry Mullen Jr. Alice pipes in with the glorious soundbite “No band has all the answers” which I still find wondrously ponient.
The new EP is selling suprisingly well, and is apparently being shoplifted now as well, leading tomixed feelings from some group members. It’s flattering, but hardly cost effective at the end of the day.
The band’s website is soon to undergo a revamp which should allow for some songs to be downloaded. The CD itself is quite impressive to behold, every copy housed in a hand-made sleeve. At this time they unfortunately have no plans to re-enter the studio in the near future, despite a wealth of new songs having been written. That said, Michael coyly mentions some label interest, despite their never having sent off a demo, which will hopefully come to some sort of fruition…
As I faff with my materials, interviewer almost becomes interviewee when Sally suggests I ask them what their favourite gig was. I do. General consencus points towards one played at the Dublin Castle in London, where they apparently went down extremely well, particularly for a gig played in an away ground. Alice, ever the philosopher, opines that it will be the nest one – MAY 28th, THE ZODIAC – which I presumably ought to mention. “Who do you recommend locally?” I enquire. Another steam of names, Fell City Girl, All You Miss, Sextodecimo, Pye being just a few of them. But one final question remains unasked.
“Why The Half Rabbits?” After a moment of mystery, they revel that the name refers to a time when as a youth Chris happened upon a laterally bisected bunnyin a field. Damien Hirst on a field trip, I wonder.
Neon – 01/06/04 – The Hope and Anchor, London
The Half Rabbits produce an edgy little set – again a four piece, their singer sports a Les Paul and there is a taut feel to the songs. Bass is busy, carrying some good lines, and drums are tite yet busy. Between the two guitars there is plenty going on, indeed the songs can be very musical, almost taking on a Jazz improvisation feel at times – a most unusual and entertaining band that can really hold your attention.
LOGO magazine – 03/03/04 – 3 Songs
Oxford’s Half Rabbits pigeonhole themselves as an indie/rock band, a tag that’s painfully wide of the mark, though to be fair there’s no way of describing them without resorting to a half page of A4. Think instead what might have happened had Talk Talk invented post-rock: the results would likely have been a similar strain of angular muscularity underpinned by skeletal ennui, not so much quiet/loud as a slow build of tension released under pressure; cyclical, yet never repeating itself. Imagine yourself coming in from work having closed the best deal of your life, climbing the stairs in a state of euphoria yet with a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right at home; imagine yourself opening the bedroom door to find your wife in bed with your best friend. Imagine those emotions, live the passion; listen to Half Rabbits’ ‘Spooked’. Genius.
Nightshift – March 2004 – 3 Songs
It’s the name that does it for us, really: how much more indie and underachieving can you get? “Wilfully shambolic!” It screams. But The Half Rabbits have really come on since we last met. There’s an almost lounge lizard shimmer about them on ‘Spooked’. Guitars twinkle, the bass rumbles discreetly and the vocals have a restrained flair, singer Michael doing a pretty passable impression of Jim Morrison. ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ (there you go-even the song title suggests they’re done with fuzzy incompetence) is heavier and crunchier, the Morrison-like vocals hovering over a clatter of organised musical chaos which carries an air of conviction, while ‘How Right You Are’ cuts a gothic pop dash. Hell, first it was Tiger Club, now The Half Rabbits – the former indie shamblers are really on the march. We guess it’s far too much to hope for that they can do something about Mr Duck while they’re about it…
BBC – 25/02/04 – 3 Songs
Oxford four-piece The Half Rabbits have released a new EP. BBC Oxford’s Ross Heaton finds himself rather spooked and a little bit smitten.
A hybrid of Jim Morrison and Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy is the only way I can describe the faintly rock-camp vocals of the lead singer of the Half Rabbits. The subtle Doors flavourings are evident on the first song “Spooked”.
Michael’s vocals are given to breathe with a deliberately eerie lead breaking up the periods of fuller rock guitar. It is refreshing to hear a band really experiment with their bass sound, and Alice has come out with some really interesting low frequency concoctions. The song is pleasant and intriguing without ever really hitting any real heights.
“Positive Mental Attitude” wastes no time in cranking up the adrenaline before introducing Michael’s distorted vocals. The repetitive but catchy bassline provides a good platform for guitarist Chris and drummer Sally to shine. Never predictable this is a quality number.
“How right you are” isn’t the strongest of the three tracks, but highlights some of their best production. A staged news broadcast leads into a nice reversed guitar to end the song. They seem to have the recipe right. A band I hope to see live soon.
Four Thumbs out of five
Ross Heaton view article
Oxford Home for Music – January 2004 – 3 Songs
Genuine Chinese calenders set aside, 2004 should be the year of the Half Rabbit. Their third release confirms the quality of their music, and shows them settling into a distinctive rock style.
The heavier moments of their songs show the influence of the likes of Muse, while the vocals remind me in turn of Elbow’s Guy Garvey, and them Tim Booth. After a couple of plays, Michael’s vocals grow on you and provide the individuality which lift The Half Rabbits above so many of their contempories. These vocals are wonderfully complemented by driving guitars, intelligent bass and some brilliantly atmospheric drumming.
The demo’s best song is, without a doubt, “Spooked”. Moody to begin with, the sympathetic accompaniment allows the lyrics to do their job perfectly. With an uncertain mood throughout, each band member gets the chance to show of their considerable talents – the star of this song perhaps being the drummer, Sally.
Coming second is weaker “Positive Mental Attitude”. Though the song has obvious qualities, seeming to nod its head to the influences of Interpol, and before them Joy Division with the same simplicity of vocal delivery, unfortunately it lacks the atmosphere of “Spooked”, and is spoiled slightly by the boomy bass sound.
Finally, a return to form with “How Right You Are”. Dark, gloomy atmospherics envelop the listener in the first few bars, setting the stage for bitter lyrics and angry guitars. It’s an impressive song – the only fault being the second-rate Cassette Boy-esque ending.
So there you go – a couple of good songs to add to the impressive work and live shows of a band I’d love to see more of.