You may have noticed if you read any uk blogs, or music sites that they’re swooning like 50’s housewives about the Wave Pictures. It seems I can’t open up a web browser without stumbling onto some article or other about this band. It’s probably only a matter of time until we Americans start up with alcolades to these guys. Since I can take a hint, especially when it’s repeatedly given to me, here I am, a non-UK person on the Wave Picture train. They may seem new to you and me, but they’ve been around releasing their home made cd-r’s for nearly 10 years. It’s just within the last month that they’ve seen fit released their first proper album on London label Moshi Moshi after a couple singles. I don’t think it’s having a label that’s built the groundswell, their new album is leaps and bounds better than anything I’ve heard of their older stuff.
As for the question are they really good enough to deserve all this praise and press they’ve been getting? After not being initially convinced they have wormed their way into my brain and I can say emphatically, hell yes!. They kind of remind me of the first time I heard the Smiths, Morrissey’s voice was a little too much to take at first, but after giving it play after play, I got it.
The Wave Pictures part of the nu-folk scene that seems to be ukelele crazy and taking the UK by storm. First there was freak-folk and now nu-folk. Where I never really got swept off my feet by the freak folkers, my pop sensibilities have me firmly in the nu-folk camp and I’ve always been a fan of the ukulele. It’s not like the Wave Pictures are doing something brand new and crazy, they just do what they do very very well. Wearing their influences on their sleeves, the Wave Pictures are like a Violent Femmes that grew up on the Kinks or a Lucksmiths full of piss and vinegar. It may take a few listens to get used to Dave Tattersall’s high-pitched whine, but once you do, you focus in on the amazingly simple yet catch melodies and become even more amazed at his Morrissey on speed lyrics. Their album Instant Coffee Baby will most certainly be hitting my top ten of the year.
The Wave Pictures have been lumped in with the afore mentioned nu-folk scene that seems to be quite thing over in the UK. The epicenter of the scene is a shop in London aptly named the Duke of Uke, a store that doubles as Ukulele store as well as a practice space. Another influence on the scene seems to be one Darren Haymen formerly the brains behind Hefner and the French. He sings on the Wave Pictures album and also teams up with Wave Picture Tattersall on Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee for an album of what they call bluegrass, but it sounds more folk than bluegrass. If you have an aversion to bluegrass, don’t let the label scare you off, sure it’s got the fiddle and banjo, but they’re not singing in the bluegrass nasal twang that drives me nuts. The album is full of originals by Hayman and Tattersall as well as a few covers including Mountain Goats and Townes Van Zandt. It was recorded in a couple days in Hayman kitchen and has loose playing around the kitchen table feel to it. If you are already a fan of Hefner and the Wave Pictures this is album is a total boon!
mp3: Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee – Sly and the Family Stone
mp3: Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee – Jam-Eater Blues (Mountain Goats cover)
You can buy the Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee album straight from Darren Hayman himself.
Photo of Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee from flickr_sam. Wave Pictures pic from their website.