The Rumble Strips
What a year The Rumble Strips have had. From being tipped by all and sundry as one of the most exciting new bands of 2007 the group have stepped up and delivered. From their explosive shows at SXSW (culminating in Charlie"s arrest and jumping bail) to their triumphant headlining of the NME "New Band Tour" in May, the band head into the festival season with an arsenal of songs set to become the soundtrack of the summer.
With "Girls and Weather", The Rumble Strips have recorded a truly classic British debut album. With their somewhat eccentric origins in Devon, the four young men from Tavistock have fashioned a set of songs steeped with huge, life-affirming choruses all awash with the optimism of youth. This is a band whose sound and look is entirely their own: thundering drums and piano, brass to stir the soul and singer Charlie Waller"s voice Â a thing of rare beauty and power suggesting the arrival of a genuine new star.
The album opens with Charlie hollering as if his life depended on it, "I ain't got no soul". What follows is 12 songs bristling with energy, frantic rhythms, wide-eyed yearning and certainly no little soul.
Indeed, the Young Soul Rebel spirit of the singles "Alarm Clock" and "Motorcycle" is evident on the album, but the record also takes in a range of less expected (but no less profound) influences: the gorgeous harmonies are born out of the band"s love of 1950s doo-wop, whilst the epic nature of Charlie"s song writing recalls the oddball genius of both Adam Ant and Queen (as imagined by the Stax house band).
Elsewhere, the brass on "Oh Creole" is like a rousing, doom laden Van Morrison classic, whilst the E Street holler of "Hate Me (You Do)" owes it"s anthemic quality to Tom Gorbutt"s inspired saxophone opening. Clocking in under two minutes, August single "Girls and Boy in Love" is all hand clap rhythms, Motown piano and gorgeous, bitter sweet melodies - a festival anthem for certain.
Recalling the achingly close, three part harmonies of Rubber Soul era Beatles, "Don"t Dumb Down" is a scathing tale of faking to impress. Key lyrics: "You don"t come from London do you? / But, sometimes you sound like you do / What the hell is that all about?"
The album closes with arguably it"s strongest moment. Built around a huge, Talking Heads-esque piano rhythm, "Hands" is an extraordinary piece of song writing. Charlie"s almost spoken word delivery is like an anglicised Springsteen, as he talks of finding himself, "on the hard shoulder of the motorway / to my feet I tried to complain / but I don"t think they were listening", as the song build to almighty crescendo.
The Rumble Strips are a truly special group: Pure, sad and romantic. Theirs are songs that strike a chord with the masses, whilst remaining enigmatic and standing alone from the crowd.
What a year The Rumble Strips have had. From being tipped by all and sundry as one of the most exciting new bands of 2007 the group have stepped up and delivered. From their explosive shows at SXSW...
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