In â€˜Girls and Weatherâ€™, The Rumble Strips have recorded a truly classic debut album. With their somewhat eccentric origins in Devon, the four young men from Tavistock have fashioned a set of songs steeped with huge, life-affirming choruses all awash with the optimism of youth. This is a band whose sound and look is entirely their own: thundering drums and piano, brass to stir the soul and singer Charlie Wallerâ€™s voice â€“ a thing of rare beauty and power suggesting the arrival of a genuine new star.
Among the bandâ€™s most passionate fans is producer du jour, Mark Ronson. Having heard Rumble Stripsâ€™ spine tingling reworking of Amy Winehouseâ€™s â€˜Back to Blackâ€™, Ronson fell in love with the band. He promptly invited Charlie to sing lead vocals at his acclaimed BBC Electric Proms performance at the London Roundhouse last year, with Charlieâ€™s performance widely declared the highlight of the evening. Further guest appearances have followed as Ronson and Charlieâ€™s relationship has blossomed, with the most recent show seeing Charlie being flown out to Coachella to sing with Mark.
â€Girls and Weatherâ€ opens with Charlie hollering as if his life depended on it, â€œI ainâ€™t got no soulâ€. What follows is 12 songs bristling with energy, frantic rhythms, wide-eyed yearning and certainly no little soul.
Indeed, the Young Soul Rebel spirit of the singles â€˜Alarm Clockâ€™ and â€˜Motorcycleâ€™ is evident on the album, but the record also takes in a range of less expected (but no less profound) influences: the gorgeous harmonies are born out of the bandâ€™s love of 1950s doo-wop, whilst the epic nature of Charlieâ€™s song writing recalls the oddball genius of both Adam Ant and Queen (as imagined by the Stax house band).
Elsewhere, the brass on â€˜Oh Creoleâ€™ is like a rousing, doom laden Van Morrison classic, whilst the E Street holler of â€˜Hate Me (You Do)â€™ owes itâ€™s anthemic quality to Tom Gorbuttâ€™s inspired saxophone opening. Clocking in under two minutes, August single â€˜Girls and Boy in Loveâ€™ is all hand clap rhythms, Motown piano and gorgeous, bitter sweet melodies – a festival anthem for certain.
Recalling the achingly close, three part harmonies of Rubber Soul era Beatles, â€˜Donâ€™t Dumb Downâ€™ is a scathing tale of faking to impress. Key lyrics: â€œYou donâ€™t come from London do you? / But, sometimes you sound like you do / What the hell is that all about?â€
The album closes with arguably itâ€™s strongest moment. Built around a huge, Talking Heads-esque piano rhythm, â€˜Handsâ€™ is an extraordinary piece of song writing. Charlieâ€™s almost spoken word delivery is like an anglicised Springsteen, as he talks of finding himself, â€œon the hard shoulder of the motorway / to my feet I tried to complain / but I donâ€™t think they were listeningâ€, as the song build to almighty crescendo.
The Rumble Strips are a truly special group: Pure, sad and romantic. Theirs are songs that strike a chord with the masses, whilst remaining enigmatic and standing alone from the crowd.
The Rumble Strips are:
CHARLES WALLER â€“ Vox / Guitar MATTHEW WHEELER – drums
HENRY CLARK â€“ keys / trumpet THOMAS GORBUTT â€“ Sax / bass
Sam Mansbridge – Bass/ Percussion
2008 US Fall Tour
10/2/2008 Princeton, NJ Terrace Club
10/4/2008 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
10/5/2008 Washington, D.C. Black Cat
10/6/2008 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle
10/7/2008 Atlanta, GA The Earl
10/8/2008 Orlando, Fl The Social
10/9/2008 Tallahassee, FL Club Downunder
10/10/2008 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
10/11/2008 Austin, TX The Parish Room
10/14/2008 San Diego, CA Casbah
10/15/2008 Los Angeles, CA Spaceland
10/16/2008 San Francisco, CA Pop Scene
10/18/2008 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
10/19/2008 Seattle, WA Chop Suey
10/20/2008 Vancouver, BC Media Club
10/23/2008 Minneapolis, MN 7th St. Entry
10/24/2008 Chicago, IL Abbey Pub
10/25/2008 Madison, WI Der Rathskellar
10/27/2008 Newport, KY Southgate House
10/28/2008 Detroit, MI Magic Stick
10/29/2008 Toronto, ON El Mocambo
10/30/2008 Montreal, QC Zoo Bizarre
10/31/2008 Cambridge, MA TT the Bears
11/1/2008 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom