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Wave Pictures - Bamboo Diner in the Rain

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 22 / 12 / 2016



Wave Pictures - Bamboo Diner in the Rain
Label: Moshi Moshi
Format: LP

intro

Latest vinyl-only album from the prolific London-based trio the Wave Pictures finds the band exploring their love of blues to astonishing effect


If I had to pick one album from this decade that I feel has been most overlooked by mainstream critics, I would choose 'City Forgiveness' by the Wave Pictures. Released in 2013, it felt like the culmination of a steady development of a band from a slightly erratic indie band into one of the most daring and inventive live acts on the planet. A double album, it has only grown in stature in my eyes since its release. It is a record every home should own. Since then, my impression has been that the band were a little unsure where to go next. They have released plenty of music since completing the twenty track tour de force of City...'. But, none of it has felt like a real follow- up. A covers album, a collaboration with Billy Childish and then a one-mic acoustic album all had their moments but none quite whetted the appetite. All were like having a very nice sandwich from someone you know is capable of cooking a banquet. So, the arrival of a 'proper' album, despite the band’s ever prolific overall output, feels like it has come after a long wait. The Wave Pictures are back! And all the key elements are back too – the surreal imagery, the probing basslines, the pounding drumbeats, the seamless interplays and, of course, the freewheeling guitar solos. But, this is no mere retread of earlier glories. Instead, the band dip into influences from the golden age of American blues, influences hinted at on earlier records but never drawn out to this length before. In some respects, this is the most traditional, 'Classic Rock' approved record the band have ever made, right down to the sleeve art where they all hold their instruments with serious faces. It is structured perfectly to play over two sides of vinyl. Indeed, the middle of each side is an acoustic instrumental (revisiting the fingerpicking style explored on David Tattersall's relatively obscure second solo album), giving the record an ebb and flow that previous records haven’t managed. But, at the same time, it shows a band utterly unwilling to comprise on their singular vision. Rather than limiting themselves to scholarly recreations of the blues, they shameless throw their love of Link Wray and John Fahey into the same pot that already includes Lou Reed and Daniel Johnson, making an album that neither a straightforward indie band nor a diehard blues act could possibly make. Every track offers something unique, even if the band’s feet remain firmly in the mud of classic sounds. Indeed, the guitar riff on 'Now I Want to Hoover My Brain Clean' is shamelessly similar to a very popular Motown single from the 60s (clue: you may have heard a few rumours about it). My theory is that Tattersall wanted to play something so irresistibly familiar that you can't help but listen to the bass line. For Franic Rozycki, his partner in the Wave Pictures since the band formed as teenagers, is on sublime form here, and his parts are rightly high up in the mix. Johnny 'Huddersfield' Helm also kills it with a brutal assault on his drum kiť. The lyrics don't really mean anything, and the song is really an exercise in showing how compellingly vital the Wave Pictures can sound even when playing one of the most bleedingly obvious earworms they've ever set to tape. 'Hot Little Hand' blisters with the intensity of mid-60s Dylan (right down to the organ). But, where 'Blonde On Blonde' is icy cool, this is a yearning love song – with Tattersall returning to the yearning intensity of his much-loved early ballads, 'Sleepy Eye' and 'Now You Are Pregnant'. 'H.D. Rider' revolves around an unrelenting downbeat blues riff, until a guitar solo can be resisted no longer and the album's first half comes to an end. The title track is something, I think, entirely new for the Wave Pictures as they slip into a modern country sound, with a pedal steel and a steel-string acoustic solo. Tattersall's vocals are a touch warmer here than on the rest of the tracks, with the romance of his imaginary juke joint coming through as if it were real. You can imagine a band like the Drive By Truckers really getting their teeth into this one, which is not something a Wave Pictures reviewer will have cause to have written before. The album closes with 'The Running Man', which has been trailed online for a few months - no/doubt, much to the band's chagrin – but you can see why the label wanted to hear it. A thunderous riff, monstrous drumming and a glorious solo, all wrapped around one of the band's most satisfyingly warm and rich productions. An underlying theme in how this record has been made, and how it is being promoted, is the band’s increasing disquiet with the internet. And yet, their attitudes to modern technology shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a sign of a lack of new thoughts. Rooted in influences from the past, yes, but still daring and skilful. Time will tell if this has the staying power of 'City Forgiveness'. It is a very different record, after all. More textured, but more dependent on riffs and moods than melodies. But, without question is that it is an album that is simply an unending joy to listen to.



Track Listing:-
1 Panama Hat
2 Now I Want To Hoover My Brain Clean
3 Bamboo Diner Rag
4 Hot Little Hand
5 H.D. Rider
6 Newcastle Rain
7 Pool Hall
8 Meeting Simon At the Airport
9 Bamboo Diner in the Rain
10 The Running Man


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/thewavepictures/
http://www.thewavepictures.com/
https://thewavepictures.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/thewavepictures
https://www.youtube.com/user/thewavepicturesVEVO
http://www.vevo.com/artist/the-wave-pictures



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