Bamboo Diner In The Rain
The Wave Pictures are back, after a typically short hiatus with an album that continues their metamorphosis from peculiar indie darlings to garage blues Gods. That transformation seemed to start with last year's Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon, and despite a stop-gap acoustic record being released in the interim (this year's A Season In Hull), this album digs deeper into that deep southern swampy sound. After spending the weekend listening to some of The Wave Pictures' ample back catalogue, it becomes abundantly clear what a sonic shift last year's Flamingo album really was (thanks in no small part to Billy Childish who seemed a key player on that record). Where the band's early releases (especially the period between 2008's Instant Coffee Baby and 2012's Long Black Cars) were remarkable, you'd be hard-pushed to say each album was a huge departure from the last one. Something changed last year, and now the band seem focused on a harder, more direct way of playing. Certainly David Tattersall's colossal guitar solos seem more at home now that Jonny Helm has taken the mufflers off his drum sticks. Franic Rozycki's bass is as unpredictable as it's ever been, weaving a melody of its own amongst the chaos, but still being a grounding point for the rest of the music. It's the sound of three mates who've been playing together for nearly 20 years now, doing it for the love of the music, and the music that they seem to love is blues. The band even manage to turn the subject of Newcastle-upon-Tyne into an authentic delta blues stomp on "Newcastle Rain", which was apparently written with Get Carter in mind (another less gritty film reference crops up later with "Running Man"). Then there's the superb "Hot Little Hand" which channels Bob Dylan and The Hawks in Judas mode, Dylan's own re-interpretation of the blues. More overtly we get "Bamboo Diner Rag" which is John Fahey through and through (Tattersall has had previous in this area, check his solo album Little Martha if you like this sort of thing). A slightly subtler shift for this record is that many of the songs feature layered up guitar (in stark contrast to A Season In Hull, and its "one room, one microphone" remit) which i'd imagine is going to be difficult to recreate on the road. Take Pool Hall's cool guitar solo, in the past the band would perhaps have been prepared to cut the guitar backing and give the solo space to breathe, here they continue the rhythm guitar in the background whilst Tattersall takes the lead. It makes for a beefier sound, but not necessarily one you'd associate with The Wave Pictures. It seems that The Wave Pictures have decided to fly the indie coop for now, but all that really matters is that they are still making great records, and long may that continue.