April 16, 2024

The Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner      is perfect English garage rock

MOSHI MOSHI RECORDS                              11th November, 2016

How can this band possibly be from England and how can I have failed to stumble across them before? The Wave Pictures channel a perfect strand of post-punk American garage rock. The first track, Panama Hat, immediately brings to mind the sound of Television, a guitar sound like Tom Verlaine and a set of simple word pictures delivered a bit nasally, conjuring up the image of a slightly disconnected and wasted skinny individual. Their lyric world has the characters from The Velvet Underground’s cast of walk-ons but drier and more laconic. “Now I want to hoover my brain clean” is the chorus and title of the next song and my jaw is still on the floor, listening to the way the band have no fear of combining indie values with guitar workouts and extended playing. Things run on and tunes are explored with jamming guitar and instrumental interplay. The complexity achieved with three musicians is surprising, yet there is a clarity around the instruments.

This is a tough review to write because I just want to write “LISTEN TO THIS”. But then, there is always another tune to describe and the third turns a tight corner into Bamboo Diner Rag – a proper folky rag with chiming acoustic guitar, something The Byrds or the New Riders Of The Purple Sage might have done. If it had been on Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s Pizza Tapes, I wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. Straight after, we are back into a waltzing Hot Little Hand, tight on romantic images and the sound of an organ played through a Leslie speaker. H.D. Rider is a proper blues, with nagging guitar figure and sense of menace. Plug into Newcastle Rain half way through and shake your body to the beating heart of the jam that has built up. And did you expect a lovely acoustic instrumental near the end, one with plucked guitar and fluttering mandolin? I didn’t. The sheer lazy tired beauty of the title track brings to mind the shaggy loveliness of The Velvets working through something like Pale Blue Eyes live in 1969 – except with uber-fan Jonathan Richman putting the smartness and sweetness into the lyrics and Richard Hawley adding some lovelorn wistfulness. Running Man, the first single, wraps it up tight, rocking and with heavy impetus, nicely unsettling us with a repeat of the “hoover my brain clean” line and a mighty dose of guitar solo.

Somehow The Wave Pictures have imagined an America all of their own, with a suite of songs set around their imaginary diner. Sounds hark back to Ry Cooder, John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat and fly on bottle-neck guitar. Meanwhile the band play as if they are in CBGBs, 1979. Dave Tattershall (guitar and vocals) says: “We’ve tried our best to build a bridge between the music we love and the people that we can’t help being”. The result is a nigh-perfect fusion, somehow completely authentic in feel, despite belonging to two worlds.

Dave talks about how the band only listen to classic American music of the 60s and 50s yet have their own style, like they have their own eye colour, so it comes out their own way, not retro. He explains that the band are trying to become more and more themselves. I’d say that, in doing so, they have distilled a pure essence, a feeling and a sound that goes beyond the source material into a Platonic ideal of the garage band.


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