I never expected to fall in love with the gorgeous, sometimes dreamy, sometimes subverted-American pop music of a band from Hamilton called Strayhound. But it happened almost as soon as I heard Strayhound, the band’s first full-lengther Nocturne (following on from 2009’s Alicanto EP).
Check out the Bandcamp links above – Nocturne is a name-your-price download (or pay $15 for limited edition CD also) and Alicanto is a free download.
There’s something charming about Desperation Bloom in the way it combines vestiges of the band’s Jayhawks influence within a simple, lovely pop-song framework. For all the buzz-wank over The National they only have one trick. Here you hear something of that sound, vocally, but it’s been placed in a song rather than just dangled over a mood.
Elsewhere I hear The Go-Betweens and traces of the early R.E.M. There’s a hint of Big Star in the powerpop ambition.
Recorded at the Waikato Institute of Technology (can someone say ‘inauspicious’) you get the feeling this is the little record that could; it plays out that way too. Great track follows great track, there’s not a dud about. And it all feels so effortless, light and bright, shining and happy but never mawkish.
I’ve been listening to Nocturne a heap. And I can’t see that changing anytime soon.