Le Reno Amps - So For Your Thrills

2010-01-07 | |

It seems I'm having a week of inspiration; finding music that I've never really given a chance, even if it's not necessarily new. Popping up today in my ears is Scottish alt-folk quartet Le Reno Amps, a band who, for the last 3 years, have sat on my hard drive doing little more than stagnating slowly. So, three years after receiving this album for doing a promotional review for a magazine (which I believe was never actually published), I'm going to get around to giving So For Your Thrills a real work-out!

Le Reno Amps were never my scene back when I was handed this album and told "Go downstairs, there's a free PC there that nobody uses. Give it a few listens; let it grow on you, or just review it straight off...whatever. Just get it done. You can keep it after; we don't tend to hang on to these promotional CDs." So, that's how I got a hold of it, free and for gratis, and it proudly sits with a few other promotional CDs (like a hot-off-the-presses promo of Feist's My Moon, My Man) in my CD drawer at home.

Aside from that short history lesson, what else can I tell you? Le Reno Amps, a nice anagram of founding members (Al) Nero and (Scott) Maple, began way back in 2004 up in Aberdeen before moving to Glasgow, in order to gig more and still keep their jobs. They had their first official 'debut' as a fully-fledged group in 2006, and released this album in April 2007 (a month after I was handed that promo copy). Some call them indie, some call them alt-country, and they...well...I don't think they stoop so low as to label themselves.

So For Your Thrills is all one could expect from an alt-folk album. It borders on the side of Belle and Sebastian's indie pop shenanigans, but, by some fluke miracle, it comes out sounding highly original - less like a half-assed Bright Eyes, slightly more fleshed out than Bob Dylan, and more like a genuine band in their own right.

Harmonicas, harmonies and harmless infectious-indie-pop aside, there's the obvious issue of quality. Particularly with Tree House, there's a sense that they don't exactly sound stellar vocally; but, neither does Conor Oberst or that Fishermans band I reviewed the other day. It's a minor point to pick up on, but, there's not much else to pick on, honestly.

Maybe I'm getting simpler in my old age, and I just want an acoustic guitar and an accordion, and a melody which makes me sway and wish I had a lighter to hold in the air, like some dilapidated, ageing hippie, reliving his 'good old days'. Thinking of it, the simplicity of this album is just beautiful. It's not cocky; it's not showy; at least not until the final song where it goes out with a bang. Still, Charles Mingus once said:

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.

He was right.

Overall: 9/10 - What can I say? It's inspired simplicity. The vocals make me think of Bob Dylan, but it has something a bit more there. Maybe it's because it's less political and seems to just be a jamboree of contagious fun. Maybe it's just good.

Top Track: Deserted Sons

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