CD Review: Birdcage Walk by Latimer House
Based in Prague, Latimer House is a cosmopolitan band with a fondness for playful indie pop and harking back to the Swinging Britain of the ‘60s. Londoner, Joe Cook is lead singer and guitarist, Anar Yusufov, from Azerbaijan, is on keyboards, Michael Jetton, from Virginia, plays bass and Jiří (George) Kominek, from Toronto, handles percussion and drums. Other musicians from jazz and classical traditions add variety by contributing on other instruments.
No one would claim that their singer, Joe Cook, has a terrific voice, but his personality imbues his vocals with charm and wit, like a switched-on John Shuttleworth. His is a flat, vocal delivery, in a matter of fact style, more focused on telling a story than imparting a strong melody. His ‘man of the people’ accent gives the band its English sensibility, and their output continues both the 60’s and 90’s Britpop tradition of sharp observations on contemporary life expressed through quirky lyrics.
Their latest single (released 7th July, 2014 in digital format, to be followed by 7” red vinyl from 11th, August) has “Birdcage Walk” (radio edit) on the A-side and “Until Then” on the B-side.
It’s the band’s second single, with “Birdcage Walk” taken from the band’s album, “All The Rage”, which was released in February. “Until Then” hasn’t been released before. “Birdcage Walk” is fun and playful, with perky keyboards counterpointing the vocal and flourishes from the mandolin. Birdcage Walk is actually the name of quite a famous street in London’s City of Westminster. Don’t know whether that’s significant or not. Politicizing is to the point…”bankers dance to the devil’s tune, re-possession; China booms”. “Until Then” has a slowed down, spoken part which reminds me of Blur. A little bit of reggae and some soulful fat trumpet make this an inventive track.
The All The Rage album is well worth checking out and features the first single, “This Is Pop”. An upbeat melody is accompanied by lyrics that take a look at bankers, celebrity culture, dumbing down and war, ably supported by a very good video using archive footage. Another track, called “Splash!” is pleasing for its light-touch keyboards and harmonizing background vocals giving it a 1960’s summertime vibe.
Latimer House has been together for a few years, with each member bringing different experiences and musical tastes from previous bands and projects. This makes for an inventive mix. Another full-length album is planned for 2015.
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