sun 23/07/2017

CD: Laurie Shaw - Felted Fruit | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Laurie Shaw - Felted Fruit

CD: Laurie Shaw - Felted Fruit

An overlooked Christmas present for lovers of psych pop gems

The collection of 30 songs certainly doesn’t short change, but there’s much more here than simple value for money
"Songs with a resolute determination to lodge themselves in the listener's subconcious"

Christmas came, and brought with it the usual silly-season headlines. "Vinyl outsells digital downloads" came the cries, bringing with them a vision of a plastic phoenix rising from the ashes. The truth was, of course, much more prosaic – digital downloads are falling faster than Icarus as more people take to streaming services and abandon even the most ethereal physical things for an internet full of stuff.

Meanwhile, in the real world, a rather wonderful release by Laurie Shaw, a ludicrously prolific 22-year-old, Ireland-based singer songwriter, passed by with barely a mention. That’s the reality of vinyl releases; many of the most interesting are limited editions put out for love rather than money on shoestring budgets by labels who appear to conjure magic out of thin air.

The beautifully presented, two-record package from Sunstone records is the first release proper by the multi-instrumentalist. It comes on the back of slew of CD-R releases (57 albums to date if his bandcamp site is to be believed) and is a work that reaches far beyond Shaw’s tender years.

The collection of 30 songs certainly doesn’t short change, but there’s much more here than simple value for money. While Shaw’s recording methods could most accurately be described as raw, marked by distorted guitar, sudden stops and occasionally chaotic percussion, they're never out of place with his bursts of vital, energetic psych.

Many will hear (correctly) shades of The Fall, the muscular musicality of The Coral and the energy of punk behind these songs, but there’s also an unashamed sense of American classicism on show here, from Elvis Presley to Don Fleming’s criminally underrated Gumball via Captain Beefheart's straighter moments.

The songs themselves are noisy, spiky and often fun (not least an inspiring cover of Tom Jones’s 1971 hit “She’s a Lady”) and so consistent in their resolute determination to lodge themselves in the listener's subconcious that picking out highlights is an almost impossible task. Having said that, the pummelling powerhouse of “Rights for the Native” segueing into the delightfully introspective “Double Denim” with its opening line, “Decade number two, Still in love with you, I wonder if the future will have boots that zip themselves,” is a moment I could happily revisit a thousand times.

Had I heard this last year, it would have undoubtedly made my end-of-year list, and I suspect that many would agree. It’s a solid argument for buying a turntable, but if you’re not for turning, you can buy the files on bandcamp. Think of it as a late Christmas present to yourself.

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