Lonesome Leash – I Am No Captain

lonesome Anyone with the balls to start an album with two minutes worth of tuneless drone tends to arouse my interest. It may not always signpost an excellent record, but it’s surprising how often it does, and it also tells me that someone is trying to build an actual album rather than keeping one eye on the reviewers.

There are two elements on this record which you’ve read a fair bit about on Song, by Toad over the years, although rarely ever in the same review: distorted drones, and demented carnival accordion.

The two elements sit together a little uneasily, but not in a bad way, more in the way that causes an initial furrowing of the brows to break into a broad grin within a song or two.

It’s odd. Is this abrasive grumble, or eccentric flamboyance? It seems to be both, and it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that this is something Lonesome Leash are capable of carrying off with more than a little to spare. In fact, this album is fantastic.  The drone in Riddle is gorgeous, the dancing accordion and flat, pie-tin crash of the drums in Pelican absolutely brilliant, and the vocals manage to be hesitant, harsh, bitter and pleading all at once, particularly on the lovely Fade Away.

Throughout this album the accordion strikes me again and again as odd. Without it, you have a nice, lo-fi album of alternative pop, but with its constantly urgent presence at the forefront of most songs, it’s a bit like being taken on a tour of an empty school at night by a demented banshee hopping about in winklepickers and a top hat.

I’m told there’s a comparison to be made to early Bright Eyes here, and that might possibly be the case, but to my shame I have never listened to much early Bright Eyes so I can’t tell you if there’s any merit in the comparison. What I can tell you is that the chiming reverb on the vocal and the twitching energy of the accordion make this an unusual and nervous listen. There’s something brilliant about it though, something tangentially charismatic, even if you’d rather not look it straight in the eye.

I Am No Captain can be downloaded for $6 or more from Bandcamp, and it is well worth doing so. It took a while to really grow on me, but after sitting in my new music folder long past the point at which I lost the email introducing me to this music, I have just found it better and more gleeful with every listen.

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