London Camden Dingwalls

....the world still hasn't woken up to his genius.

When it comes to buried treasure, [a]Josh Rouse[/a] is entombed under 400 miles of coal, fossils and lava. Tonight, Dingwalls is three- quarters full. A strange mixture of esoterically bearded country loons and hyper-trendy indie analysts, they’re all gathered a polite distance from the stage to witness [a]Josh Rouse[/a]’s achingly melancholic songbook. They call it alt-country. Which is a little unfair as Rouse has as much in common with country music as Asian Dub Foundation.

And tonight’s set only confirms how much of a cripple box that tag really is.

His songs, from the sparse, beautiful ‘White Trash Period Of My Life’ to the relatively upbeat opener ‘Laughter’, combine the paranoid atmospherics of Radiohead, the songcraft and instrumentation of ‘Out Of Time’-era REM and the darkest moods of Nirvana. And, yes, when he’s at his best, he really is that good.

Although tonight’s set gives tracks from this year’s slightly disappointing album ‘Home’ an over-generous airing, his performance is captivating. His voice has an irresistible pleading quality and it cracks in all the right places. He could perform the greatest hits of Aqua and make it sound like your heart was being torn in two by Cupid’s crack-addicted brother.

Closing with a cover of The Cure‘s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, Rouse proves that just because he lives in Nashville, he’s no rhinestone snorting trucker fucker. And yet, two albums and an EP in, the world still hasn’t woken up to his genius. No wonder he’s depressed.