Curse of Lono “Severed” (Submarine Cat Records, 2017)

On first hearing this record without reading anything about it I thought that Steven Adams (Broken Family Band) had adopted a back to basics approach and formed a new band. It’s a thought that stuck with me every time I listen to the record and it’s certainly meant as a compliment – there’s the voice of Felix Bechtolsheimer (Hey Negrita) which is a dead ringer for Adams and then there’s the lyrics which explore the same melancholic self-deprecating squalor. CofL have an admirably broad palate, the songs spreading out across a range of styles – the opener cheekily references the Byrds with both the title and the bass line of Five Miles (add three and some altitude and you’re there).

They are on their most solid ground when gathering around the comfort blankets and wallowing in melancholy: Each Time You Hurt and He Takes My Place are both full of gentle hurt, the latter especially tender with harmonies soothing over the pain. All I Got is even more emotionally naked and there’s just the warmth of electric piano to salve the soreness, like Adams CoL never lose their sense of humour even when dealing with the ache. And its not a wallow, there’s an element of not letting the bastards grind you down, Welcome Home is like a huge gang of friends saying fuck it, let’s just have fun.

This one of those records that you want to listen to over and again, it doesn’t fade, the Beta Bandish Don’t Look Down is a perfect ending to the record. It, like a lot of the record is about loss and though it begins with melancholy it gathers momentum and builds beautifully, reaching acceptance and finding strength, the music follows the same journey eventually dam-bursting with a quite lovely guitar solo. This is a record with a heart that has been scarred and that I’m a little bit in love with; I can’t wait to hear it again.

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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