Angus McOg “Beginners” (Independent, 2019)

A hearty helping of warming indie folky Americana from Modena, Italy. Though it could easily be from the USA or anywhere else one might care to mention. The band (Angus himself plus two sidemen collaborators) draw overt influences from the likes of Wilco, The National and Father John Misty. Perhaps a little Teenage Fanclub in there too. It wouldn’t be much of a spoiler alert to tell you that Angus McOg is not this Italian songster’s real name.

We kick off with ‘Laika,’ a gentle start with acoustic guitar and ‘Fool On The Hill’ type organ. McOg’s voice is double tracked, hitting the sweet spot in terms of mirror versus dissonance. ‘A Rooftop Love Song’ picks things up a (slight) notch, shimmering, floating electric guitars running the show, with a twinkling, stellar keyboard ending. It sounds a lot like a single/lead track.

Many of the songs on the first half of the record do sit in that easy-ish tempo pocket; perhaps ‘Turkish Delight’ ramps things up a bit and skips closer to Fanclub territory. ‘Green Ocean Blue’ is perhaps a standout here – melody, tempo and arrangement blended together at their sweetest.

The second part of the record is a little more diverse. ‘Ulysses’ comes in like some eighties synth pop rarity, but blends those familiar guitars to pull it closer towards the rest of the record. It still marches out of step a little though, along with subsequent track ‘Turn The Corner,’ where an echoed guitar/synthy soundscape floats the song along a little less effectively. ‘Cold Sand’ is more psychedelia-lite. It’s the best of these later tracks – carried on by chiming ride cymbals and organs. ‘Chanting Mime Hands’ closes the record, pulling matters back closer to how they commenced. Rolling toms and those chiming guitars drive the song, with keys and synth instruments leading to a full, fat crescendo.

Melodic and easy going indie folky Americana with an eighties twist here and there
8/10

Author: Mark Nenadic

Quite likes music. Doesn't really like people. From The North. Exiled in The Midlands due to radical views on whippets/flat caps. Beards and plaid shirts belong on Willie Nelson. Everybody else should smarten up a bit ..

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