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Holy Vessels - Last Orders at The Marshall Arms

  by Jon Rogers

published: 13 / 9 / 2012

Holy Vessels - Last Orders at The Marshall Arms
Label: Hello Babe!
Format: CD


Breezy and upbeat Americana on debut album from diverse Brighton-based five piece, Holy Vessels

The Brighton five piece Holy Vessels first caught Pennyblack's eye when they included the Harry Partch track 'On the City Street' on a Soundcloud mixtape and our interest was suitably tweaked. Clearly these people had taste and not conventional taste either as the avant-garde American composer is hardly a household name and something of a renegade, often composing pieces for instruments he has devised himself. Somewhat disappointingly or not (depending on your point of view) the Holy Vessels sound nothing like a Partch composition, and nothing as inaccessible but they do steep themselves in a bygone Americana - and a love of having a good time. All too often music snobs can spend too much time stroking their beards and getting all precious about the significance of that minor chord and the supposed deep and meaningful lyrics. And while the Holy Vessels shouldn't be dismissed as trivial, they are clearly fond of living it up and not taking it all too seriously. They like fun. And let's face it, it's only rock 'n' roll and we like it. 'Last Orders at The Marshall Arms' was recorded in a dilapidated lambing shed on a farm in the Oxfordshire countryside, and that relaxed, rural vibe permeates the whole album. It's a breezy, feel good album. Not one full of urban angst and recorded in a bedsit on some rundown estate. Their breezy take on rock 'n' roll, tinged with a folky, country feel will no doubt draw comparisons with the likes of Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale, but to these ears Holy Vessels are much more exciting and varied and versatile. At times some of the songs sound rather archaic, as if they've been dug up from the past and dusted down. Rather than mining the past for inspiration to go off and do something new, at times it seems the past has just been raided and used wholesale. 'Twin Peaks' (nothing to do with the David Lynch TV series) is all retro doo-wop harmonies from the 50s, and opener 'Golden Hair' feels like a country hoedown. 'Queen of Alimon' seems to have The La's collide with 60s US garage rock, as does the short and sweet 'In Your Water' which lasts all of a minute and a half. Admittedly a few tweaks would have been worth it, such as the rather mundane 'Last Rebel of the War' which rings rather hollow, but overall 'Last Orders at The Marshall Arms' is fun, bright, breezy and well worth a spin.

Track Listing:-
1 Golden Hair
2 Springtime Bloom
3 Down By the Wayside
4 Last Rebel of the War
5 Queen of Alimony
6 Perhaps She Never Really Came
7 Peeping Tom
8 In Your Water
9 Jaycee
10 Fever

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Interview (2012)
Holy Vessels - Interview
John Clarkson speaks to Robert Mavers, the guitarist with energetic and harmonic young Brighton-based band about their just released debut album Last Orders at The Marshall Arms’, which was financed by a PledgeMusic campaign

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