BITTER STREET SYMPHONIES

Fresh from inventing stool-rock, JOHN ROBINSON parks his corduroy coated posterior close to THE MONTROSE AVENUE.

THE MONTROSE AVENUE

London Camden Falcon

It is, as men in fringed suede jackets were once wont to observe, a crazy no good idiot wind of change that’s surely got to come, my woman. And so it is, that down the dusty lonesome highway we travel, to seek the buzz that’s been coming (and quite possibly been ‘a-comin”) down the wire. About five young men with not a great deal of trouble on their minds, who apparently don’t mind a bit of Del Amitri. Pull up a sideburn, and make yourself comfortable. Or as comfortable as you can in a tiny room filled with the perspiring questers after the new authenticity, for whom a 12-string guitar pays a soul’s ransom and a calfskin boot taps to the righteous tune. Sweat drips off the ceiling as The Montrose Avenue appear in a whirlwind of harmonicas and boot-cut trousers, their shiny faces glowing in the knowledge that the Zeitgeist is at their feet.

For their thing is trad, but faster. Part of the new school of bands like Gomez and Sun House for whom the world’s music stopped evolving at a time approximately simultaneous with their own conception (music of the late-’70s, ’80s and ’90s? Fie!), a mood of quality early-’70s mellowness, all Joy Of Sex, rubber plants and neglected tropical fish obediently follows The Montrose Avenue like a shaggy Afghan hound. Handsome, but in an almost undefinably bland way, they are rakish younger brothers from good public schools whose thing this week is music, and who are incidentally quite handy with a harmony. They shamble on in quality brown leather, and begin to sing “La la la”, the first of many times they do so. The Montrose Avenue, you see, know how to do this very well indeed: a reassuring quality lines the likes of ‘Where Do I Stand?’ and ‘Lost For Words’ that speaks of learning, respect and an understanding of how to make moving, vaguely countrified music.

They have the right moves, the wildly shaken heads and those inevitable harmonies, but there’s a suspicion that even at the root of new single ‘She’s Looking For Me’, there’s not really very much more going on than an intelligent walk through the substance of these moves. Though they’ve at least now stopped doing cover versions of Crosby, Stills & Nash songs, The Montrose Avenue want to be old and folky and buggered up and from America, when they’re faced with the terrible curse of being young and British. Truly, it’s difficult to walk the dusty road when your singer’s called Rob Lindsey-Clarke and your drummer used to be in Menswear. Change has come, for sure. Eight songs and 25 minutes later, The Montrose Avenue squeeze off the stage, and fight their way into the bar where possibly unbeknown to them, the century is two years from its close. Filled with the reassuring comfort found in old things, the Falcon is collectively filled with the urge to do some knitting.

John Robinson