Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thompson Falls - Overspill Poets

Thompson Falls

Overspill Poets
Revenge Western Records.

SCQ Rating: 68%

Nearly twenty years I spent dreaming of bigger cities before I skipped my hometown for university, all the while equating those small-town stretches of society as a wasteland of thumb-twiddling. Since then, the often spontaneous decision to pack my bags has carried me to larger cities and eventually Canada’s biggest, where I soaked up its compromised culture in subways and street-meat. At some point during this time, I began looking back at those smaller cities in a new light, recognizing how unburdened they were and how free I felt. Titled after an Idaho town of the same name, Thompson Falls evokes that familiar nook of one-way streets and quiet sidewalks I longed for, where each building and passing individual represents a portion of the whole, well-known and essential in their role.

As it happens, Thompson Falls is also an ideal soundtrack for trekking through the forgotten backwoods of wherever, combining a well-honed study of jangle rock with some alternative country leanings. Kicking off strong with the rustic pleasantries of the title track, Overspill Poets (George Kitching and Tim Taylor) dig into the record’s best tracks early with the full-band folk-rock of ‘The Sound of Sirens’ and Taylor’s memorable vocals which hang over ‘Boxing Gloves’ like a traditional celtic pub-song. Particular attention must be paid to ‘Summer’ however, as by harnessing some unsettled guitar and a drum-machine, Overspill Poets create a moody, modern alt-rock tune that, at the risk of not quite fitting in, out-muscles everything else on Thompson Falls. And while the album’s latter half has its share of standout tracks (the jagged licks of ‘Northern Star’ spring to mind), Overspill Poets linger too often in affable, MOR arrangements that slide into the background for listeners. Such tracks like ‘Leave It Behind’ and ‘Tomorrow When You Leave’ lack enough presence to truly register and end up making an album of twelve songs feel overlong.

Despite the goofiness underlying a description like “Bob Mould crashing into REM on Johnny Cash’s iPod”, the author of that quote succeeds in name-dropping the eclectic roster Overspill Poets translate from. And in spite of some flaws, Thompson Falls boasts a jangly alt-country sound I’ve admittedly never heard, one that is fully formed and a hopeful launching point for this English duo. If I may: like Morrissey forgetting his ego with a bar-band in Middle America. No good?

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