Curse Of Lono
AS I FELL
Submarine Cat Records
An Enigmatic Mix of Film Noir Americana, Indie-Rock, Psychedelia and Romantic Poetry
Oh Dear Lord, do I have a problem with this album.
You know what it was like when you you used to have a favourite band that no one else knew about; until their latest single got played on the radio and suddenly all of your school chums wanted in on the action, without acknowledging all of those lonely hours you put in poring over their lyrics on the first album sleeve ?
Well; that’s how I feel about Curse of Lono who are suddenly on the cusp of over night stardom (after spending decades in various guises traipsing up and down the highways and byways for little or no financial reward or acclaim.)
As regular readers will know, we fell in love with their cinematic and atmospheric mix of Americana, Gothic, Indie-rock, Psychedelia and romantic bedsit poetry (truth be told!) two years ago with the release of their debut EP which turned our world upside down.
Thankfully not a lot has changed since 2016 with their distinctive ‘sound’ perhaps being ever so slightly ‘bigger’ and ‘tighter’ and ‘more muscular’ than I expected on opening song Valentine; but that could just be the way Maestro Oli Bayton has mixed the drums and Charis Anderson’s threatening bass on this spooky and moody song about raging jealousy.
By Curse of Lono standards second track Way To Mars is positively jaunty; until you listen carefully and Felix Bechtolsheimer’s articulate prose are as dark and engrossing as anything that has come before.
As the handsome singer and songwriter, it’s all too easy to just talk about Felix in any review of their music; but the spine of Curse of Lono is very much the stoic bass playing of Charis Anderson (think John Entwhistle guesting with Cowboy Junkies) and the highly-developed power of drummer Neil Findlay; with guitarist extraordinaire Joe Hazell and the thinking man’s Brian Eno Dani Ruiz Hernandez on keyboards providing exceptional and occasionally Olympian flashes of genius on their respective instruments.
But, first and foremost it’s the songs and the way the band construct them that I love. Weirdly, both the title track AS I FELL and Kathleen reminded me of the beautifully fractured prose of 19th Century poets Thomas Hardy and Percy Bysshe Shelley which I fell in love with in the long haired days of my teenage years; yet The Affair could easily be the title music for a modern Film Noir Detective that wears a trench coat and Fedora and the bittersweet Blackout Fever sounds like U2 covering an out take from the first Roxy Music album!
Confused? You won’t be, as Curse of Lono have many influences in their work but positively don’t sound like anyone else I’ve ever heard; and I’ve heard a lot in the last 50 years.
Where to go to for a ‘Favourite Song’? Bloody Hell!
Bechtolsheimer has previously written deeply personal songs about his well documented Heroin addiction in the past; but nothing I’ve heard surpasses the raw and edgy beauty of And It Shows which finds a whole new level of darkness; albeit with some light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Tell Me About Your Love starts with a murmur and slowly builds to menacing close with Hazell excelling with his playing at the dirty end of the fretboard. Then on the deeply personal Leuven, the singer mines the pits of his soul to tell a tale originally passed down from his Grandfather about the surviving a train crash in 1954. The attention to detail is staggering and if the words don’t get you, the sweeping and swooping string section most certainly will drive you to tears.
But; one song captured my attention last year when they played it in concert and the love song, I’d Start a War For You with it’s Pink Floydian meets Ry Cooder undertones is something of a Masterpiece; which everyone concerned can be extremely proud of.
Like the finest whiskies, wines; and even beers these days this album and the songs therein are influenced by many and various other bands and songs everyone has encountered over the years; with many leaving a mark or a shadow; but Curse of Lono have created a very singularly distinctive ‘grown up’ sound all of their very own and more power to them for sticking with it; rather than going for the easy buck playing in soulless covers bands as so many others are forced to do.
Any or all success that this album brings to the quintet is well deserved, and I for one will be truly ecstatic for them; even if it means me having to sit at the back of a huge Arena every five years in London or Birmingham, rather than hanging out with them in the bar like we did at the Cluny!
Released 18th August 2018