House Above The Sun “Five Hours North” (HATS Music, 2017)

HATS are a celebratory kind of a band; their music rings with the joy of making music, not the artistic struggle. The songs don’t sound like they were wrung from a tormented soul, more like they escaped like blissful bursts of inspiration. They’re an Americana band, blending most of the touchstones, corralling folk, blues, country and rock. Footsteps relies on acoustic guitar and harmonies to gain a foothold, gradually introducing the piano, electric guitars and drums with a relaxed easy charm that is infectious.

The opener Runaway Devil has a Television like riff that cycles around skirting towards Cream country and staying just far enough away from straight out blues. The stand out is Tonopah a memory of a childhood roadtrip through Nevada: with guitars snaking around and harmonies adding shading, the song is paced perfectly, with an interlude that hints at The Byrds and The Long Ryders before it bursts into life again like a desert after the rain.

Ask Me To Pretend puts me in mind of Whiskeytown, that easy way with melody and the insouciant belligerence and belief, coupled with the ability to deliver a song that tickles both heart and hips. The reflective Find A Warmer Place finds them finding another gear, the gently chiming guitars ringing out to announce their arrival. Not everything hits these heights but this is a very promising debut from the South London band.

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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