21st Century Reviews

You liked Roaring Jack, you might like some of the recent releases reviewed here!

15 August 2009

Warblefly - Tenerife to Dover (Warblefly, 2009)

This English band first came to my attention a few years back, when their blistering tune ‘The Ballad of Ali Abbas’ was my favourite track on the second Shite’n’Onions compilation. Tenerife to Dover is Warblefly’s fourth album, and it’s a lively amalgam of the traditional and the postmodern.

Warblefly’s sound is built around fiddles (David Hassell and Minna Harman), melodeon (Elly van Veen) and mandolin/mandola (Peter Frizzell). The swirling, tumbling sounds of these traditional instruments are beefed up by Frank van Veen’s noisy guitar, Andrew Beckerman’s clever basslines and Steve Harker’s pounding yet intricate drumming. On top of all that racket we get inspired vocals from Dave Hodgson, occasionally augmented or replaced by Minna’s much sweeter voice. ‘Warblefly in My Beer’ is the storming opener, a stirring call to cut the crap and to be honest to yourself. Memorable fiddle-based riffs abound, both in this song and in others like ‘Broken Body Parts’ and ‘Ghost of Mamston Moor’. The sinister guitar riff that opens ‘7 Deadly Sounds’ reminds me of all that hardcore punk I listened to in the 80s, before the song mutates into a drunken singalong about chasing impossible dreams. By contrast, ‘Shrimp Boy’ opens like a gentle Weddings Parties Anything song that brings tears to the eyes, before the angry fiddles, cruel guitars and stomping beat take over!

The more I listen to this album, the more it reveals itself. Probably the most immediate song is ‘Shoplifter’, a very catchy tune set to an impulsive ska beat. But after repeated plays, the rugged beauty of tunes like ‘Underwater Breathing Competition’ and ‘Sack of Seeds’ come to light. The music of Warblefly has insinuated itself into my brain and left me wanting to hear more.