Album, Single and EP Reviews



  Rabbler & Crow by Rev. Simpkins & The Phantom Notes

Rabbler & Crow cover art

Title: Rabbler & Crow
Catalogue Number: Righteous Holler RHRCD1108
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008

Just when you get to the stage of despairing for music in the U.K. along comes a sign that it isn't all bad. The inspiration has once more returned with this album by Rev. Simpkins & The Phantom Notes.

With musical contributions from parts of the mighty and seriously underrated mod band Fuzzface, it would have been hard for this album to go wrong. The sonic influences of the aforementioned band are clear for all to see but the songs themselves head off in altogether a different direction. They twist and turn in a way that suggests proper English eccentricity rather than the calculated zaniness that is so often mistaken for the real thing these days. The inspired madness of "Lucifer Rag", for example, is complemented by the full on folk flavoured "Babbler & Crow". Interestingly, there is even a "down at the crossroads" song in "Try To Stroke His Muzzle". There is a definite sense of adventure here as folk, fire, brimstone and even old style music hall get mixed into an offbeat but very British sonic concoction. Without wanting to read to much into these songs, you might begin to wonder if they are a commentary on the state of this once great country cunningly disguised as neo gothic melodrama. There is no lack of imagination or intelligence here and that is what sells this album. All sorts of musical influences are on show but the end result is original.

Whatever way you look at it, this is a fresh (and very fine) sounding album. It strips away pretension and replaces it with a skewed - at times metaphysical - look at the world. We might all be going to hell but at least we now have a decent soundtrack. Looks like the Devil had all the best tunes after all.

Available by mail order from Amazon.
Review Date: December 1 2008