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Repomen - Dietrich

  by John Clarkson

published: 19 / 11 / 2005

Repomen - Dietrich
Label: Repomen
Format: CDS


Eclectic indie rock from experienced and consistently inventive Sheffield-based act, the Repomen

Sheffield has become a buzz city for bands for the first time since the early 90's with the sudden acceleration to fame of the Arctic Monkeys. As the A and R men head up North from London, it is a pity, with Pulp ironically being the one exception to the rule in recent years, that longevity and experience should count for so little in the music industry. The talent scouts would be hard pressed to find another act on Sheffield's local scene as durable or as consistently inventive as the Repomen. This veteran local rock act, which features Denzil Watson (vocals, keyboards), Ric Bower (guitar, keyboards), Simon Tiller (bass) and James Hughes (drums), make a point of never making the same record twice. They first formed in 1990 and recorded two cassette only singles before splitting up in 1992 and then reforming again in 1996. Since 2000 they have recorded a CD EP each year, which has found them moving beyond their punk pop roots and experimenting with music in a wide range of styles including Americana, jangle pop, hardcore punk and psychedelia. 'Dietrich', the Repomen's sixth and latest CD EP, once again finds the group expanding its already extensive boundaries. The title track, despite a photograph of actress Marlene Dietrich that appears as part of its sleeve, takes its name from the German word for a skeleton key, and tells of a burglary interrupted by a suicide. Great gusts of brass, provided by special guests, local trumpeters Balor Brass, are hurled up against Bower and Tiller's grinding, hurricane guitars. With its big sound, Dexy's Midnight Runners during their early 80's heyday are perhaps the most obvious comparision. Watson's clipped vocals, and a dark narrative lyric which culminates with his burglar continuing to ransack the house he is in after its owner turns a gun on himself, however, give 'Dietrich' a sinister force and character all of its own. The second track, 'A Different Situation', after the macabre surreality of 'Dietrich', comes as a complete contrast and is a breezy indiepop number. Mellow in tone with lilting backing harmonies, and wittily told by its protagonist as he sits in the driver's seat of his clapped out Vauxhall Astra, it is at one level about shattered dreams, but, in part too a tender love song, is also about moving on by taking pleasure in what one already has. An outtake from the practice room, the third and middle track 'Sixteen' is a brief 50 second foray into garage rock. It finishes without instrumentation in a sudden crescendo of vocal harmonies, and bridges the gap between the first two tracks on the EP which are electric and the last two which are acoustic. The first of these acoustic tracks, 'Oxygen', tells of an as yet unrequited love affair, and is a dreamy, faintly melancholic ballad. Inspired by a recent visit that Watson made to Uzbekistan, the latter, 'Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva', takes its name from three of the ancient cities of Central Asia and is a wispy Eastern-sounding folk number, with ghostly echoes and samples of distant voices, that points evocatively towards adventure and escape. This latest EP shows off convincingly another five sides to the Repomen's multi-layered personality. With all four of its members now in their 30's , the Repomen are both perhaps too old and too difficult to slot into an easy formula to be of much interest to the youth-orientated A and R men. Despite their status as current leaders of the pack, one gets the impression that the still baby-faced Arctic Monkeys could learn quite a lot from them. For those looking for something out of the ordinary in their music, the Repomen continue to remain defiantly, boldly different.

Track Listing:-
1 Dietrich
2 A Different Situtation
3 Sixteen
4 Oxygen
5 Samarkand Bukhara Khiva

Band Links:-

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