Antenna Man “Elaine Jr” (Independent, 2016)

Modest indie-rock with a speckling of Americana used to be a staple of the records that we reviewed, but lately there’s been a recalibration towards authenticity, the kind that comes from beards it seems. Well Antenna Man are a welcome throwback to the days of Birddog or Earlimart, a lo-fi sound augmented with fills of piano that are like echoes of the honky-tonk and pedal steel that flickers through the songs like sunlight reflected off a CD. They use Country Music signifiers with affection and respect and with fun, so songs like I’m Your Man bounce and crackle with bonhomie.

There’s staple Country fare on If You Don’t Love Her played with a straight bat. Mark Wolven’s vocals affecting a melancholy drawl – like Anders Parker, it helps that the song is well constructed and the harmonies are painted with just the right texture and the guitar break is woven into the song like fancy embroidery on a Nudie suit. Insignificant drops any Americana touches and pillages indie-rock, playing up the dread of getting stuck in a job you hate, and it’s songs like this one that help you get through that particular time. It builds slowly until the point when the guitars just have to burst into life and keep on spiralling, reaching a point of punch the air catharsis.

Guitarless Man effortlessly blends together the indie and Americana elements, stirring steel guitar into the song alongside simmering organ and the usual holy trinity of bass, guitar and drums. It really doesn’t matter about the proportions of the different genres in each song as long as each song manages to create its own identity, and Antenna Man manage this throughout, having enough personality and the song-writing chops to go with it.

Author: David Cowling

Punk rock, Go-Betweens, REM, Replacments, Husker Du, Minutemen, Will Oldham, Smog, Whiskeytown, Ass Ponys but probably most of all Howe Gelb, led me on this journey.

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