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Chris Olley - A Streetcar Named Disaster

  by Denzil Watson

published: 3 / 3 / 2010

Chris Olley - A Streetcar Named Disaster
Label: Long Distance
Format: CD


Stripped down and surprisingly accessible first album under his own name from formerfrotnman with abrasive Nottingham-based drone rockers, Six by Sven

Having already tested the waters with a number of experimental albums under the monikers of Twelve and Fuck Me USA, Chris Olley, ex-front man/guitarist/main song writer of Nottingham-based drone-art-riff merchants Six by Seven returns with his first solo album proper. One thing that quickly becomes clear is that time has mellowed Olley since the hulking beast of Six By Seven finally came to a grinding halt in late 2008. 'A Streetcar Named Disaster' is a stripped down affair compared to the dense soundscapes of his previous band. The melodies were always there behind the walls of guitars but here, with just an acoustic, mellotron and occasional percussion to compete with, they breathe and flourish. Recorded in front rooms and basements on porta studios, the record has a gentle and organic feel to it and one that ably shows Olley’s gift for penning a great tune. It’s also a surprisingly accessible album, drawing heavily on traditional US blues and folk, Spacemen 3’s 80s shoegazer rock and Olley’s beloved Neil Young. The travel-weary ballad 'Flying' gets the album moving in a graceful way, like a stripped down Arcade Fire, with its chiming organ and scratchy acoustic guitar. 'Pissing', a gentle and warm affair lilts with its West-Coast melodies and 'In Too Deep' brings to mind the Jesus and Mary Chain with it soaring guitars and reverb-drenched vocals. The lo-fi shimmer and rumble of 'Rock’n’Roll' perpetuates the JAMC comparisons and 'Sleepwalking', a little gem of a tune, sees oriental-sounding guitars interplaying with piano to great effect. 'Journey Through the Past' keeps up the flying theme, building into a beautiful crescendo and 'Fear is a Lie' taps a similar vein to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Occasionally the minimalist approach doesn’t quite work, leaving the listener with a feeling of what could have been had songs been fleshed out and worked up to their full potential, 'Pain', an acoustic dead-ringer of Six By Seven’s 'I.O.U. Love', and 'Keep Your Tears Away' being examples in point. That said, the album’s unforced feel and lack of over-production is one of its charms and one that could so easily have been lost in the current musical climes. Post the demise of Six By Seven Olley by his own admission “picked up an acoustic and tried to find out who I was within music”. He goes on: “I didn’t really care if it was right or wrong, good or bad, it just had to be done”. Fortunately for us with 'A Streetcar Named Disaster' Olley has indeed found who he is and hopefully put himself not on the road to disaster, but to a successful solo career.

Track Listing:-
1 Flying
2 Pissing
3 In Too Deep
4 Rock and Roll
5 Sleepwalking
6 Journey Through the Past
7 Heaven Knows
8 Throw Your Lovin Arms Around Me
9 Fear is a Lie
10 Pain
11 Keep Your Tears Away
12 Forever

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