By Chyrisse Tabone
Review of Lois’ debut CD The Polperro Horse Bus Company
Members: John Selby- Vocals/Guitar; Lee Matysiak- Guitar/Keys; backing vocals Rich Spencer – Bass; backing vocals Adrian Maguire – Drums
Genre: Rock n’ Roll
Hometown: Nottingham, UK
It’s funny. For me to find the fresh, crisp music, I have to look on Twitter. Forget playing FM radio here in the U.S. It is the same limited choice of auto-tuned, over-engineered and sanitized music to choose from. I listen to Sirius XM (paid satellite radio subscriptions) just to hear indie bands that are “real” independent bands, and not because “we are told they are indie.”
Well, across the pond, there appears to be a bunch of mod-revival bands that we Yanks are starving for. Like I tweeted this week, “We need another British Invasion!” Not since the late-70s and early-1980s have we had a New Wave of music with the distinct 60s pop mod sound, catchy hooks, and driving beat hit our shores (with the exception of maybe the Kaiser Chiefs). We have read about the antics of bands, like the Libertines, during the last decade, but they do not tour the U.S. Every 20 years the mod-revival pokes its head above water and it has done it again in the Millennium—except in the States where we were too busy having hip-hop-laden girl and boy bands shoved down our throats.
So, thank you, Twitter, for introducing me to bands like The Rifles, Lois, and the 45s.
Rock At Night is now presenting a review of Lois’ debut CD The Polperro Horse Bus Company, which is packed with 16 tracks. Yes! It is what we would call in the old days “a double album.” You can treat yourself to a full hour of mod-revival or 60s retro-sounding music that was composed in the Millennium. Lois appears to adhere to the 60’s style with the four-beat drum and bass driven rhythms accented with killer organ riffs and low-distortion electric guitars. John Selby, lead singer, is backed up periodically with the “oohs” and “aahs” to round out the whole Brit mod package. Here is a rundown of the songs:
“King of Opinion,””The Big Heist” and “Click Click Isabella” all have a definite high-energy mod sound with low-distortion guitar leads and bright organ accompaniment. I can picture in my head a whole dance floor of go-go dancers and modsters arm pumping “The Jerk” and trotting “The Pony.” Think Austin Powers. One cannot help but break out into dancing upon hearing these catchy little ditties.
Another song “Your Own Little World” is slower beat accented with the 60s guitar rhythmic strum and boy-back-up vocal harmonies. When I close my eyes I can picture (in my mind) a guy with a black suit, white shirt, and skinny black tie huddled up dancing with his bouffant-hair girlfriend. The song exudes nostalgia.
The song “Star is Falling” has a four-beat, pounding bass and drum rhythm that beckons one to jump up and dance. There is definitely hints of Small Faces and almost a New Wave-ish feel to the groove. Think “go-go” dancing. In the same vein, the song “Jeanie,” with Its shuffle 60s pop beat and “Ooh la la” chorus, was possibly inspired by Small Faces’ “Sha la la lee.”
The title song of the CD, “Polperro Horse Bus Company” begins with a distinct electric piano riff and a swaying danceable beat. The song then changes direction (again, perhaps a Small Faces influence) into a pounding bass, guitar-driven rock frenzy. In the middle, there is a mood pause—and almost like a bass drop—breaks into an utter guitar passion again.
A couple of the songs may even be described as “60s surf rock.” Lois’ single “Monkey Girl” displays a driving drum and rhythm guitar beat, a lead guitar solo in the middle, and an “Papa Oom-Mow-Mow/Surfing Bird” feel. This song is so catchy you will be fighting an earworm for weeks.
The song “I’m Out for the Summer” cannot get any “mod-er” with its driving base and Hammond organ sound. The song has almost a Kinks or Zombies (“She’s Not There”) groove you will be looking for the Fem-bots to appear around the corner. Sheer fun.
Not all of the songs on the CD have a 60s retro sound if that is not your “piece of cake.” “On the 10.02,” “Pleased to Please You,” and “Be True to Yourself” are definitely contemporary music. “Be True to Yourself,” was masterfully engineered by Grammy Award winning producer Guy Massey and one can hear its Beatlesque or possible Oasis-esque influence. The song starts as a slow vocal, cello, and piano melody and builds into a full-fledged, drum-laden orchestral crescendo with its glowing harmonies and violin/cello accompaniment. It is really a rock anthem in its own right.
The song “My Precious Love” departs from the 60s upbeat style into lounge-music melody and a hint of Bossa Nova with its haunting harpsichord-like riff. It is very creepy. Then, it breaks into a loud reverb-driven guitar groove and subsides back to the riff again. It is a very creepy, Exorcist-like song but interesting. Perhaps a gothic film will pick it up?
The only puzzling song is “Who Can Help You Now?” It features a fast-paced, funky guitar attack with an infectious, grooving organ beat, which later blurts the chorus “Who Can Help You Now?” There is a striking similarity to The Heavy’s “How Do You Like Me Now?” Whether it was inspired by this subconsciously or not, it still is a catchy funk number.
Overall, I highly recommend downloading the CD and giving it try. It is probably my new favorite CD for lifting my spirits. I think we all could use a little lift nowadays. So, let Lois lift you.
About the CD: It was recorded at Superfly Studios in Ollerton, Notts under the expert supervision of studio owner Andy Banfield and mastered down in Twickenham by Jon Astley (The Who, George Harrison, Small Faces). ℗ 2014 Neon Grove Music Limited
I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse