Royal Air Force take us on a high octane romp through the codes and conventions of 70’s cop shows soundtracks
One of the best things about music, is when you find a band you love, and then you realise that they also have a side project. This just happened. A few months ago I was exulting the virtues of Swiss jazz funk outfit Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders. If the name isn’t enough to want to check them out, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!? Um, yeah, anyway, I then find out that the bass player, Joe Moustache, is in a band called Royal Air Force.
Like with Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders Royal Air Force make a music that is steeped in the past. The 1970’s to be honest. Lead track Funky Spider sounds like an outtake from an episode of Starsky and Hutch, Kojack or a slew of cop shows. As Funky Spider starts out heroes have spied the villain and begin the chase. It’s all running on foot through busy streets/parks until the baddie steals a car. To keep up the heroes have to commandeer a car and the track picks up pace and tempo. After driving recklessly the villain crashes and then the chase starts off on foot again. Eventually he is cornered and after a slight scuffle he is arrested and brought in the questioning.
That’s it. This is a high octane romp through the codes and conventions of 70’s cop shows soundtracks. But don’t be deceived there is more than meets the eyes. The composition is complex and rewarding on repeat listens. There are subtle flourishes that at first you don’t notice, but on the third, and fifth listen, jump out and try and mug you at knife point. In a nutshell Lalo Schifrin would be proud!
Midwestern London exile’s 6th album is an eclectic and charming jaunt into 1960’s Beat Pop
Piney Gir is hard to pigeonhole. This is down to her chameleon like attitude to music. As Piney eloquently puts it “If you appreciate many types of music, why only limit yourself to one thing all the time?” New album Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride is twelve perfectly crafted slices indie-pop, but they are underpinned pop, psychedelia, country, kraut rock, folk, electro, with fuzzed out guitars and a smile on her face.
Golden Rules opens with an angelic choir that is met head-on by chugging guitars and infectious fuzzy riffs. Piney’s warm and welcoming vocals deliver something that is part nursery rhyme/part life lesson “It’s not a question of time, it’s just the way that it goes. All that glitters is not gold” she sings. Golden Rules sets up the album perfectly. This is exactly what you’re going to get. However if you listen closely you realise that the songs are linked around a heroine and her loves and losses. Tilt a Whirl sounds like fairground music produced by Joe Meek. Ugly Bones feels like an updated Southern waltz, but with more melancholy levels at an album high. The album closes with a repirse of Golden Rules, with its swirling guitars and violin gives Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride a fitting end.
There is a retro cool vibe that permeates every track. This is in part down to it being recorded in Stereolab’s studio. You can almost imagine Piney and the band decked out in the finest 1960’s garb, playing authentic instruments of the time and the takes are immediately pressed on to 7” singles and the play backed on a Dansette.
The real star of the album is Piney and her delicious vocals. They are the equitant of an ice cold lemonade after a swim on a hot day. Juxtaposed with the music, you feel quenched, but at the same time you feel greedy and want more. As will all twee indie, it does begin to grate due to lack of variety, and like too much lemonade it begins to hurt your teeth and head, but these feelings don’t last long and then you’re back enjoying the album. Mr Hyde’s Wild Ride has been released at the perfect time, Summer is here and this is the perfect soundtrack.
Rock pioneer dies of natural causes, I remember my musical upbringing.
I love the New Year. Part of this is because a lot of bands put out things that were either left over from the previous year, or have lined up things to come out early on to capitalise over their peers who are releasing stuff later. Good times. One of the worst things about a new year is that you start to hear the bad news that hadn’t hit the front pages yet.
Today was one of those days. Phil Everly (one half of The Everly Brothers) died aged 74. Reports say that he died of lung disease. The Everly Brothers were one of the biggest bands at the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Bye Bye Love (and today’s choice) Wake Up Little Susie are two of their most known (and loved).
On a personal note this is very sad. When I first got into music my Dad had a guitar (nylon stringed classical thing). I thought just by picking it up I would immediately be the next Hendrix. But what song to perfect on my first time? At the time 1950’s Rock ‘n’ Roll was having a revival, and I was listen to a compilation called the American Diner. My favourite track was The Champs – Tequila. This seemed too hard for an absolute novice to attempt. My second favourite track was todays choice. What I initially liked about it was the intro. This seemed like the perfect start. My first lesson of the day was if it sounds easy, it isn’t. I tried for hours to try and work out that intro riff (much to the annoyance of my parents).
Eventually I worked out what sounded like it. In hindsight it didn’t sound like it at all, but at the time it did. I remember writing down the chords that I worked out (next to it I wrote Little Susie cover). That pad is now long lost but I remember the story. This is the power of music. It can remind you of something that happened to you 20 years earlier, as if it was yesterday just by an opening note.
Over the years I haven’t really thought about The Everly’s much, but in a weird way, if it hadn’t been for them I may not be where I am now. Thank you Phil for shaping me in my formative years. I hope your pain is now over.