CVC – ‘Real To Reel’ EP review: retro rock anthems with groove to spare

On their debut EP, the South Wales band begin to carve out a sound that's as distinctive as their uber-retro style

Like a glitter bomb on the verge of explosion, CVC crashed into the often self-serious world of UK guitar music earlier this year in a storm of colour and sparkle. The six-piece – whose acronym translates to Church Village Collective, a nod to the rural South Wales town they were raised in – make gleefully retro rock that is low-slung and infectious, while wearing garishly patterned shirts you could find in the bargain bin at a vintage shop.

The band’s kooky visual identity made them initially stand out on the Cardiff gig circuit, a community where attitude is nearly as important as talent. Starting out as a jam band in 2019, CVC quickly wound up with a large local following that resulted in them selling out Clwb Ifor Bach – the Welsh capital’s premier independent venue – before they’d even released a project.

A period of upheaval then followed, with various band members coming and going as all of their early music was removed from streaming services. They used lockdown to recharge their band dynamic, finally resulting in their debut EP ‘Real To Reel’ two years later. Having gained their second wind, it seems CVC are now clearly determined to make the most of it.


By drawing on their influences with enthusiasm and pomp, CVC’s undeniable inter-band chemistry is what makes ‘Real To Reel’ sound fresh despite its referential palette. Recorded in guitarist Elliot Bradfield’s kitchen, the EP boils over with the sheer fun of its creation: a burst of ecstatic cheering wraps up ‘Pyongyang’, its rollercoaster structure and sunny melodies deftly recalling the fluorescent tones of The Zombies’ classic record ‘Odessey and Oracle’ or late-period The Turtles. Recent single ‘Winston’ also attempts to recapture the glory and groove of late ‘60s psych-pop as it peddles along with swirls of reverb.

CVC’s vibrant energy keeps these songs very much alive and future-facing. A series of group harmonies led by charming vocalist Francesco Orsi – who freely swoops between a whistle and lower register – bring a giddy energy and character to ‘Docking The Pay’. It makes for an unhurried track that reveals its subtle layers over time, whether that be a satisfying crackle in the bassline or the rolling breakbeat drums which are deftly woven into the chorus.

For what started as a lark between mates, ‘Real To Reel’ is an assured achievement from a band that knows how to have fun, and wants us to hop aboard and join the party. Even if CVC have seemingly trawled through their favourite records and pulled apart the liner notes, for ‘vintage’ music, this all sounds remarkably new.


CVC real to reel ep

  • Release date: July 27
  • Record label: CVC Recordings
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