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Pinetop Sauna - Pinetop Sauna

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 19 / 11 / 2017

Pinetop Sauna - Pinetop Sauna
Label: Pinetop Sauna
Format: Download


Prolific Norfolk singer-songwriter Nick Worrall reunited with three members of his high school band to finally record a proper debut album as Pinetop Sauna

Pinetop Sauna is the dream of every grown-up over, say, 35 or 40 who ever had a band as a teenager. The supremely talented and prolific Norfolk-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Worrall is originally from Northwich, Cheshire. Still inexplicably unsigned, he has released several solo albums over the years on Bandcamp for his own amusement, as he describes it, including last year’s superb 'Hero Buffet' and this year’s harder-edged, lovely 'Stereometry' and 'The Meaning of' EP with his band the Late Pioneers. I’ve written before about Nick’s man-cave recording studio in his garden shed, where he manages to create minimalist beauty that egos with unlimited expensive studio time can’t rival. But back when he was in high school and sixth-form college in the early to mid-‘90s in Northwich he formed a band, Neumann’s Flash, that included local friends Nathan McGahern (percussion and vocals) and Kevin Slack (bass and vocals). Early rough tapes of the band were discovered in a member’s basement and duly placed on Bandcamp a few years ago. The more important story is, however, that twenty-one years later the reunited trio, now working under the name Pinetop Sauna, have recorded and released a self-titled debut album after four years of work. The first single was tantalizingly released back in 2015, 'The Reeds', a youthful romp with a fun, quirky a cappella ending. An accompanying blog about the four-year experience, like 'The Return of Roger’s Trout Farm' chronicling a high school band reunion, would have been a wonderful addition. Although Nick had moved away from the area, his job – sadly not musically-related - allowed him to return to Northwich and spend enough time with his old friends to make these twelve relatively short songs along with a trilogy of short films for three of the songs ('Lips', 'The Reeds' and 'Devotion') a reality. They feature vignettes about places in and around their hometown where the three grew up and the state of those areas now: a fallen tree where they built forts as children, abandoned docks, warehouses, factories, industrial storage tanks, train tracks, and bridges where they hung out as teenagers, an old clock repair shop. Decades of changes, improvements and new housing construction for Liverpool and Manchester commuters, as well as blight, decay, and neglect in both the failing industrial and rural areas, are also poignantly seen in the artwork and in the songs’ short films. Don’t worry, these scenes are not rehashings of 'Castle on the Hill' or Okkerill River’s melancholy high school memories of New England, except for a common retrospective tendency in everyone who lives long enough. The photography was inspired by “the magic hour” of Gregory Crewdson and the Pennsylvanian industrial scenes from 'The Deer Hunter'. The joy of the three musicians playing together again is evident from the very first track, the classic rock-imbued 'Some Return'. 'Raided and Gone' is a great swoony doo-wop country waltz instrumental with saxophone by Claire Hamburger, but it makes the listener miss the three-part harmonies, which are easily one of the best things about the album, described by Fresh On The Net’s Bobby Colcombe as “Northwich’s answer to the Hollies” for a good reason. Nick’s love of Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys, Big Star, and Euros Childs is evident in the vocals ('The Shoots', 'Lips') as well as the dreamy acoustic guitar ('The Reeds', 'Devotion'). The band’s lyrics are typically intelligent and shot through with an acerbic wit and dark humour similar to vintage Elvis Costello: “When I was young I was told if you didn’t look after things, they won’t last/Now that I’m old, I believe the earth is flat” ('Flat Earth'). Even so, it’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the intermingled voices and lose track of the lyrics altogether. With the technology available for band members to reside on different continents and still collaborate, let alone different counties in the same country, luckily it needn’t take long for the next Pinetop Sauna album to be created.

Track Listing:-
1 Some Return
2 Flat Earth
3 Lend You Some Money
4 What's Goin' On
5 Devotion
6 The Shoots
7 Lips
8 The Reeds
9 Stick To Me
10 Do What You Want To
11 Raided and Gone
12 Just One More

Band Links:-

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