Warm sentiments for a cold climate. Harmony drenched, folk-rock jangle from Newcastle-Under-Lyme's finest.
The enduring power of mid '60s folk-rock, most notably made by The Byrds, continues to resonate down the years. That irresistible blend of melody, harmony and treble-turned-up guitar jangle has, at least since the early '80s inspired many a band, becoming a starting point, a sonic template for these bands to take and twist and make their own.
Seven years on from their debut long player Then We Begin, (yes seven years! Beat that Stone Roses!), Alfa 9 are releasing a follow up on Blow Up Records. Gone To Ground takes its main inspiration from The Byrds et al, adds a classicist approach to song writing, (hooky choruses, quality middle eights and all that) and injects it all with a decidedly British sideways glance at life.
Take for instance Old Man Blues, a blues-harp driven driven, humourous account of ageing and looking back at life. It's difficult to imagine a self-obsessed Californian band coming up with such a track but if you're from the Potteries such things no doubt come easier.
Into The Light, along with Green Grass Grows sees the band at their most Byrds-like, the first being imbued with a chirpy, life-is-good feel. Conversely the latter has a melancholic, how-will-I-be-remembered sentiment. Both are mighty fine.
Elsewhere there's some indie-fied country rock (Birling Gap, Nothing Feels, Ferry Song), uptempo psychodrama (El Morocco), and swirly psych-pop like Noel used to have a stab at (The Castle). The album has a similar feel to Teenage Fanclub's Songs From Northern Britain, not just in its sound, but also that it's full of warm sentiments for a cold climate. Let's hope the band don't leave it another seven years till the next album. In the meantime if we get a summer this year this would be a fitting soundtrack.
Click here for Alfa 9's website.
Click here for the Blow Up Records website.