Gnarly Stokes - Early Mornings (Vibe Shack Recordings) 
Gnarly Stokes - Early Mornings

So, first things first, awesome name. Gnarly Stokes is a 17 year old from Ottawa and if his parents had the foresight to name their son Gnarly Stokes then hats off to them. However, this isn't a blog where I assess the naming abilities of Canadian breeders, no, this is a blog about music so strap on the headphones and let's give this young man a listen. This seven track album opens with 'Dreamin'' which is a pleasant enough piece of Clapton inspired guitar noodling but doesn't really go anywhere - appropriate title then. 'Justin Avery', I am reliably informed, is the completion of a song started by Stokes' uncle before he died 10 years ago and it's a chilled out piece of instrumental guitar work with a subtle slow beat that fits the song nicely.

'Distracted', title track 'Early Mornings' and 'Slept In' all continue in the same vein as computer processed beats nudge the songs along at walking pace while Gnarly Stokes strums absent mindedly along without any real sense of what he wants or where he's going. I had high hopes that 'Alien Experimentation' would be some kind of Zappa-esque wig out but it's more like incidental music from X-Files unfortunately. The album finishes up with 'East Coast Summers' which has a summery, optimistic vibe but is still essentially a variation on a theme which, after seven tracks, loses its appeal fairly quickly. There's no doubting that young Gnarly can play his guitar but, as is the problem with many a bedroom musician, there is no sounding board for the tunes they produce and I think this young man needs a band to contribute to.

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