If only parents the world over knew the impact their record collection will have on their children then perhaps they would think twice about what music to listen to. You hear stories of expectant mothers playing Mozart and Beethoven in close proximity of their swollen tummies in the hope that the complex arrangements will somehow boost brain activity so when the baby finally pops out he – or she – are geniuses.
From this video it is pretty obvious that they have played the off Weezer album from time to time but that’s alright as the LA four piece were themselves a conduit for earlier influences – pop punk, indie, power pop and a defining slice of 60’s whimsy. Infectious is normally a good word for describing such music but here it almost doesn’t seem sufficient to describe the sun-kissed, sugar rush that assaults your ears.
Moog synthesizers, noisy guitars and a healthy dose of nerdy enthusiasm all fall into one end of the mix and out of the other comes a song of such contagion you will need to update your shots after listening. If this is the sound of young Scotland then I’m seriously thinking of packing my bags and heading north.
picture courtesy of Carrie Davenport Photography!
I must confess that whilst most reviews of this album are going to open with Morriss’s credentials or the announcement of a Bluetones reunion tour, the reason this album excited me was the fact that he covers Sisters of Mercy’s goth standard Lucretia (My Reflection) and I was massively intrigued to hear someone so far outside the genre’s take on such a song.
Normally songs that form a big part of our formative years as The Sisters did with my own become a taboo subject when it comes to cover versions as they rarely eclipse the original in your own eyes, just as only one sequel in the history of film has been better than the original. (*Answer below) So expecting the worst, I actually got something rather fantastic, a gentle, wistful pop version that stood on it’s own legs. Where as Eldritch went for dark testosterone, Morriss goes for late night ambience and fragility and by Jove it works.
As an insight into Morriss’s influences this re-imagining of his own record collection covers some unexpected ground, delivers some wonderful reworking’s and unlike most albums of this type and a far cry from the likes of Rod Stewart crooning half-heartedly through The Great American Songbook, brings something new to the table. Fans of Buffalo Springfield, Madonna, Rain Parade, Jesus and Mary Chain and Scott Walker will, I’m sure, have a similar tale to tell.
*that’s right, Aliens.
Closely following recent hit single ‘Slam’, The Gromble return with ‘Don’t Stand A Chance’ – a chorus-less allegory, orchestrally-backed inferiority complex, part nod to modern synth-pop, part nod to Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins, complete with a Randy Newman outro rip-off….
Listen to the track here: DON’T STAND A CHANCE
“I think the main sonic focus of the track is the marriage between old and new.” says Spencer from the band. “The artificiality of the computer curated drum beat, with the five piece string section played raw and very live, tracked all together on an indoor basketball court. The synth-pad juxtaposing a clean electric guitar, etc. As a stand-alone single, throughout its three movements it gives the best representation of who we are as a band. From the quiet stuff with the more grooving beat, to the heavy 90s alt guitar, and the big harmony stuff. Lyrically it’s about the ever-elusive nature of success, and the Sisyphean struggle to fit in that everybody faces in one way or another.”
Hailing from the warm shores of California, the five-piece have established the kind of rare synchronicity that has helped them carve out a charming blend of orchestral alt-folk and indie rock, honed live supporting such acts as The Lemonheads. With the classical intensity of early greats Pavement, Weezer and Neutral Milk Hotel and a taste for the heartland classics, they arrive somewhere between Grouplove, Miniature Tigers, and Vampire Weekend. They take their name from a character in Nickelodeon’s Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, a perfect indicator of their unashamed love for 90’s pop culture and for the sense of humour that runs beneath the surface of their songs.
For those of us who experienced the majesty of 90’s indie music this is a beautiful throwback, coming-of-age trip of musical nostalgia and rose-tinted audio memory.