Quite often in life it is the times when you have the lowest expectations that yield the most pleasant surprises. And for me that was very much the case at the Gare Du Nord Records Showcase at The Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell last Friday.
Sadly, we lost the headliners Papernut Cambridge (whose new album is utterly addictive) to family sickness, which meant that the main attraction was Rotifer and his literate mod pop. Except that due to bad timing and pub misunderstandings, I ended up watching some country rockers downstairs, rather than hearing tracks from Rotifer’s apparently ace new album upstairs.
I did hang around long enough to catch the last band of the evening Rapid Results College, largely because the band features Mike Stone once of The Television Personalities on guitar. In-demand Mike is becoming a bit of the Johnny Marr of early 80s influenced indie psych. The last time I saw him he was playing with Steve Somerset in the brilliant, and I guess, sadly no more Shadow Kabinet.
Nevertheless I really wasn’t expecting to fall so utterly in love with Rapid Results College. A few years back Pete from noisy indie poppers Adorable and Polak teamed up with Terry, the guitarist from the House of Love to create the wonderful Broken Heart Surgery, an album which mined the gentle more heartfelt slow burning tunes from the third Velvets album. In the same way it appears Rob Boyd, lead singer and creative mainman of Rapid Results College, has toned down some of the slightly more strident elements of his earlier band The Hillfields, and instead conjured up some wonderfully warm, melodic, melancholic pop gems
They began quietly enough with Francine’s Coat, but for me ‘The Magic’ started to happen when they played The Cautionary Tale of Alfonse du Gard, a bizarre tale of an unlucky in love who manages to slice the finger off his would-be girlfriend while ice skating on Hampstead Heath. Both the music and lyrics the song remind me have a great deal of my favourite Brit psych, like the first Kaleidoscope album or On a Saturday, the low-key missing in action 45 from Tomorrow’s Keith West or at a push the decade’s secret Smiths influence Peep Show.
From here on in the gems same thick and fast. Shop is a delightful upbeat ditty (well for this album anyhow) about every ageing hipster’s dream of owning a record shop downstairs and a cafe upstairs, while Turret Grove is hypnotic slowcore with some unusual, and inspired drumming from Owain Evans. Any Other Way, is a gem of pop song with a soaring chorus embellished by some subtle harmonies. The evening finished with the album’s finale Down on You. Originally a upbeat jangle-fest recorded by The Hillfields, it’s now a stripped down brooding psychedelic mother which climaxes in deluge of feedback drenched guitars.
Anyhow, since last Friday I have pretty much played nothing else but the Rapid Results College album In City Light. Sure they are a band that wears their influences mainly C86, 60s Brit psych, 80s kiwi indie pop and a smidgeon of Jonathan Richman and The Go-Betweens on their sleeves, yet somehow it all gels together in a wonderfully fresh and enjoyable way. You really need to hear this album. Let’s hope they gig again soon, and that the vinyl is on its way!