A superb album of neckerchief rock from Newcastle’s The Attention Seekers.
Robert Elms, a long-time presenter on BBC Radio London (available everywhere on BBC iPlayer) came up with a sub-genre of americana a few years ago – “Neckerchief Rock” which can be summed up as mainly acoustic, gentle, bucolic, laid-back songs purveyed by the likes of Ronnie Lane, McGuiness Flint, Gallagher & Lyle and Danny & The Champions Of The World amongst others – all British bands but all bands who have been labelled americana in their time. Now there’s a new addition to the neckerchief rock collective – The Attention Seekers.
Based in the northeast, the driving force behind the band is Alan Fish who has written ten of the eleven songs on the album although three are co-writes. He also plays guitars (six and twelve string), bass and harmonica and sings lead vocals on four of the tracks and produced the album. The lead vocals on the other tracks are shared between Jesse Terry, Sam Blewitt and Romaana Shakir. On drums are Stu Haikney and Trevor Brewis, Rachel and Nadeem Shakir provide backing vocals and Sarah Fish plays violin. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Tony Davis (who also plays keyboards on a number of tracks) at Cluny Studios in Newcastle.
On the album there are some old songs that Fish has revisited, ‘Is It Too Late’, ‘Do Me A Favour’, and ‘Chain Reaction’. There are also new songs about Fish’s love for America ‘The Girl With Jukebox Mind’, a mystery girl ‘Alison Jones, a letter to his younger self in ‘Daydreaming’, a loving tribute to his home town of Newcastle in the album’s title track and even ‘Mr Coastguard’, a thank you to the Turkish Coastguard, which as Fish says “Spending a night in a tiny speedboat with no fuel and lost in rough seas is an experience my wife, Viv and I will not be repeating!”. Obviously, a traumatic experience so writing the song must have been very cathartic for Fish – and probably for Viv too!
Fish has written some superb songs and his lyrics are sharp and concise. He’s ably backed by his fellow musicians and the production is clean and precise. There’s also a definite flavour throughout the album of another band who could and should be considered neckerchief rock and that’s the much-loved Lindisfarne who like Fish hail from the northeast – maybe it’s all that Newcastle Brown whetting the whistle in between songs that gives the album that distinctive Geordie flavour! Fish himself gives a nod to the band as the only song on the album that he hasn’t been involved in writing, is the wonderful ‘Winter Song’ penned by the much missed and Lindisfarne founder member, the late, great Alan Hull.
You could probably file ‘Seven Bridges’ under neckerchief rock or americana or Newcastle folk but whatever it’s filed under, it’s definitely well worth a listen.