They may whiff of flop-house green tea, and look like a bunch of ne’er-do-well backyard stirrers from a monochrome Buster Keaton road movie, but this band may well be the best thing to have come out of last year- well, this side of the Catskills, anyway. Organic and farm fresh, these boys harness the unsullied rawness of sometime 1950’s hometown skiffle-charm, juxtaposed with a keen ear for post punk indie rock. Think of McGuinness Flint crossed with Lovin’ Spoonful and Mumford & Sons, to get somewhere near the idea.
This astonishing show band comprises of corn-bred Dave Yeoman on vocals, also playing his trusty ukulele and some modern keys; Stoical Richard Jones on guitar and Vocals; Sage-like Andrew Stuart-Buttle on bass and also providing backing vocals and trusty Pete Rundle on drums. This is a line-up of raw kinetic energy, albeit neatly tied and tussled into a compact, camera-ready package.
So at the Hob, Staines, we enjoyed a sublime serving of feverishly beautiful songs delivered by this troop of jolly bright-eyed and virtuous do-gooders. The set was like plundering a two-for a dime Rock-Ola full of roots music hits. Take, for example, “Whatever Goes Around” which has a twanging chiming, neatly packaged vibe – this song is cheerful and buzzy in a good way. Or take the song “Two Feet”- (and please let us forgive the fact that the intro sounds just like Sweet’s seventies hit “Blockbuster”.) Let’s go straight to the highborn vocals that break through the ‘paste and sticks’ rhythm, to clear a way for that noble, yet choppy, chorus to shine through.
Sometimes Dave’s uke takes the lead or introduces a song, like the bumpy “Caroline” with the thumpy bass, rat-a-tat percussion and soft as goose-down vocals. At other times, Dave takes goes to the keyboard, to add texture and depth. The whole time he bounces, Cheshire-cat grins, and cradles the heart-warmed audience with his gentle vibrato-filled vocals.
The splendid “Everything Alright” has generous layers of softly textured melody and a sweetly groovy rhythm. This is the ultimate feelgood ‘angels in white’ lullaby for you and your gal. I thoroughly recommend a hug by the fireplace with this tune on softly in the background. Those precise harmonies will gladden your heart. And it will get your ‘other half’ in the mood.
There is plenty more shilly-shally riffing from the oversize scrapbook of this jook house band, and most breeze along at a fairly frantic pace. The musicianship and vocal quality is quite astonishing. Songs range from softly rocking up-tempo numbers- each played with beguiling style- to low slung cotton-picking gen-u-ine Americana.
Wow. What a band! What a Catch for the Hobgoblin! See ’em as soon as you can, while it is still possible. ‘Cos They will be flying high, certainly, by the end of the year.