Flowerheads – Demo 2008 (Jamendo)
Ah 2008, I remember it so well, you could leave your doors open and no one would burgle you, children knew their place and the labouring classes always doffed their hats when you passed them on the street. Halcyon days. And apparently a Surf Rock band released a demo album around that time too, so there y’go, it really was the best we’d ever had it.
The Flowerheads, on whom I can find next to no information beyond their Jamendo entry and this solitary offering ply their trade in the realm of slightly skuzzy and slightly psychadelic strumming on a range of basement bar and cigarette themed tracks across this demo effort. Plus they throw in a female vocalist whose voice is halfway between sinister, domintrix style villainesse and heavy smoker singing underwater and I’ll leave judgement on the merits of that particular classification to the listener for the moment.
Instrumentally this is actually quite a likable little collection, slightly lacking on production quality at times but it’s nice to hear the ethos of hook heavy Surf Rock mixed with a hefty dose of the kind of heaviness normally reserved for far Bluesier styles. The whole thing has the alluring appeal of archetypal Americana gone slightly deviant after a bottle of whiskey and a bit of chain smoking, like a more melodious, Link Wray loving version of The Kills or a more depressed version of the White Stripes but there’s still something lacking for all that.
Charm, I think, is the most obvious absense here. To go back to the female singer, she’s not bad really but she does slightly detract from what I’d say was the most appealing parts of the Flowerheads release by veering more towards Acid psychadelia and dominating each track with her intention to do so. Her vocals are sparse and impersonal, presenting a distant image which is a little hard to connect with where a more conversational, denser style might have made for a more emotive listen. This shouldn’t be seen as a discouragement from downloading though because even if it doesn’t work perfectly her contribution is still far from an objectionable one and if anything it’s more reflective of the choices that I’d have made for the album than the success of those which the band made.
Unfortunately I don’t imagine that we’ll be seeing a followup to this any time soon but even if this particular project remains the one testimony the Creative Commons world has for the Flowerheads we can consider ourselves to have done fairly well out of the deal and who knows, I may just be wrong. Althought that’s an unlikely rarity indeed.