Wednesday, 25 October 2017

RVG - A Quality Of Mercy

Well, *someone's* been listening to Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express. Heart Paste has the urgency of Spring Rain, the enigma of Palm Sunday and the same swim in the sound as Head Full Of Steam. It's easily one of my favourite songs of the year.

The band is RVG as in Romy Vager Group, which is a nod to the Patti Smith Group. I can hear that, but more obviously there's Echo and the Bunnymen and the patchouli-scented whiff of goth rock. That doesn't quite do it for me, but everyone else is losing their shit over the A Quality Of Mercy album.

Some songs I like a hell of a lot - Vincent Van Gogh hits the right spots, for example - but honestly it might just be that there's nothing nearly as good as Heart Paste. Yes, I could say that for most other albums this year.

This album came out in February and sold out in the blink of an eye. I bought the download a week later. A Quality Of Mercy has just been reissued on vinyl so you should give it a go. You might love all of it and I'm just precious and over-demanding.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Last Leaves - Other Towns Than Ours

The Lucksmiths signed off 9 years ago with First Frost, singing "here's to who knows what" on South-East Coastal Rendezvous. The what, musically, was a shift towards noisier rusticism that looked more to the American underground than it did to their own indiepop ancestors.

If First Frost was only a partial shift - it includes a song called The National Mitten Registry, for fuck's sake - it closed the chapter called "The Lucksmiths" and suggested there was another story to be written.

Which is where the Last Leaves and Other Towns Than Ours comes in. It does what First Frost did - gets its hands dirty, edges backwoods Americana into the late evening sun, wonders what The Byrds might have done if Neil Young had joined instead of Gram Parsons - only better and with bigger riffs.

Old habits die hard - Something Falls is indistinguishable from The Lucksmiths (I'm definitely not complaining) - but this album has the freshness and vitality of a new band. I can imagine hearing these songs on the radio and seeing this band on a big festival's bill. The more I listen to this album the more I like it.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Early Riser - Currents

The cello is a much underused instrument in pop music. Welcome, then, Early Riser whose mixture of folk-punk and chamber pop features a lot of cello.

Currents is an album that strongly suggests that at a young age Early Riser found REM through Green and Out Of Time - frantic melodies, desperate romanticism and just the right side of goofiness - and then worked back to the Violent Femmes. There's some Suzanne Vega in here as well.

If you relate to acute awkwardness, magnified melodrama and hating your exes, or at least like hearing about those things set to battered guitars and, yes, cello, Currents is for you.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Weed Hounds - Double Life

The American shoegaze revival spluttered to a halt a couple of years ago. Of course, the genre might be called something else now, but I can't find the tunes however hard I look.

Hang out the bunting, then, because Weed Hounds are back after a 3-year break from their debut album. That album didn't kick up the fuss its blissful noise should have done, but it'll be rediscovered by enough people that it's eventually known, rightly, as a classic.

Double Life is more immediate - crashing riffs and gigantic tunes you can hear right away even with the fuzz turned up to 11. It's a mystery why commercial radio has yet to playlist this. Radio directors who want to find out what Alvvays fans are listening to in their bedrooms, and anyone else who loves noisy pop, head this way:

Sunday, 8 October 2017

It's The Mick Trouble EP

Jed Smith, an American musical mimic, has taken on a subject far too obscure for Weird Al Yankovic. This is a quite good impersonation of early Television Personalities, but it's very silly.

This prank record's official line is that Mick Trouble disappeared in the early 1980s, just before he was going to give pub rock's new wave kings Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello a run for their money.

Which is barely credible because this is nothing more than a Television Personalities pastiche. Smith's west London accent is pretty good, but would only fool anyone who thinks Dick Van Dyke's London accent wasn't all that bad.

The lyrics are untroubled by subtlety - take "snotrag in the loo" from a song called "Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git". I ask you. Mainstream television comics likely did this kind of skit at the time. See Kenny Everett for reference.

The attention to detail is very good - from the trebly punk jangle to the spoken pay-off line at the end of "Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git", which doffs its (railway driver's) cap to Where's Bill Grundy Now?

But if you really want a song that sends up London's punk scene in the late 70s, look no further than Part-Time Punks by the Television Personalities.

And if you really want a contemporary band that's very influenced by the Television Personalities, head straight to the Real Numbers, whose Wordless Wonder album last year is the real deal. It adds something to the original with its own wit and style. Panache, not pastiche, works.