giovedì 30 dicembre 2010

The Stands "All Years Leaving"

Il gruppo decisamente lodato da Noel Gallagher esordiva con questo discreto disco. Non mi strappo i capeli per questo suono sicuramente retrò, ma devo dire che è fatto con accortezza e discrete melodie.
Gruppo onesto. Niente di più. (2004 Echo)

Most music is not at all original; it's an observation that is common knowledge to any music fan.
But it's only after hearing certain records that you realize that most music is simply recycling "the classics," and that most bands don't have the talent, knowledge, or simply the gut to make something startling.
An example of such a record could be All Years Leaving by The (seemingly Noel-Gallagher-endorsed) Stands. There's no doubt about the craftsmanship and good intentions of these four young British lads, but the final product just doesn't stick out from the masses.
Let's start with the music: the typical mix of '60s folk and rock, which British bands like The Trills, The Coral, and the Turin Brakes have rediscovered, is a prominent force on All Years Leaving.
The Stands are mimicking that sound with good result, sounding like something that late-'60s bands such as The Byrds would have recorded if they had been kept in cryonic state for forty years. Then there are the lyrics; lead singer/songwriter Howie Payne writes simple and understandable lines.
That's fine, but his songs don't have that same unmistakable, in-your-face power as his examples. What made those "'60s legends" legendary is the genius of how they could compress an intricate feeling or story into a few lines, or a melody with utter simplicity.
Now, it's not very fair of me to compare the debut record from these guys with the best works of the Byrds, Beatles, or Beach Boys, but that is about the only comparison that is valid, because The Stands don't leave the roads paved by those bands.
Again, there is nothing wrong with recycling an old theme, but it would just seem to make sense to add, subtract, or change things to make the theme more interesting.
There are enough examples of bands that did exactly that (examples like Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle & Sebastian spring to mind) and made the best records of the '90s. Unfortunately, The Stands seem to be one of many in the abundant pond of bands with unimaginative music. (

Given the official Britpop seal of approval by no less than Oasis' Noel Gallagher, this album is essentially a showcase for the undoubted talents of singer-songwriter Howie Payne.
That the album is ultimately something of a mixed bag is not so much down to Payne's obvious abilities as a songwriter, but that the performances on this album simply do not do justice to the material.
Part of the problem is Payne's thin, reedy voice which, although occasionally sounding like John Lennon before he smothered his vocals in reverb and multi-tracking, most of the time just can't carry off the tunes... And there are some great ones dotted around this album.
One of the best is When This River Rolls Over You (one of several songs on the album that appear to owe more than a passing debt to one Neil Young), but then there's also the Beatles-like The Big Parade and Here She Comes Again, which could easily be mistaken for the Velvet Underground song of the same name.
I Need You and The Love You Give, both titles that also betray the influence of the Fab Four, evoke memories of the Byrds, circa Fifth Dimension, while it's easy to imagine the title track gracing one of the early Oasis albums, and, indeed, it would have been greatly enhanced by Liam's snarling delivery.
No problem then with the breadth of references to rock's golden age, but like any number of British bands of the past 15 years (Ride, Teenage Fanclub, Cosmic Rough Riders etc.) the size of the record collection doesn't always equal memorable pop songs, merely derivative ones.
For all the variety of songs on offer here, and the admirable brevity of the album (a shade over 41 minutes) there just isn't the contrast of setting and mood necessary to sustain the interest.
Payne's voice, too, really does start to grate after a few numbers, partly because sometimes he tries a little to hard to be expressive and, instead, comes over simply as over-mannered.
It's easy to see how, 10 years or so down the line, Payne will have carved himself out a cosy little niche as a jobbing songwriter while his fellow band members have disappeared back into obscurity. That's a pity because in many ways this is an impressive, ambitious album - it just seems to fall short in the final delivery. (Simon Evans -

- I've Waited So Long
- All Years Leaving
- Outside Your Door
- When This River Rolls Over You
- It's Only Everything
- Always Is The Same / Shine On
- Here She Comes Again
- The Big Parade
- The Love You Give
- I Need You
- Some Weekend Night
- The Way She Does


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