by Lucie Walker
Once in a long while, a truly impressive band comes along. I know, they’re horribly few and far between these days, but Parlor Mob is one of them. Their album ‘And You Were A Crow’ has accumulated a cult following as they sucked up fans with their heady cocktail of dirty rock and tender blues. It’s no wonder they’re a hit with wavy-haired 70’s-lovers such as myself.
Earlier this year I saw the video for the opening track on AYWAC, ‘Hard Times’, and I instantly thought to myself: “is this one of the great oldie bands? Surely nobody sounds like this anymore!”. But no, these kids were young and serious, and after shamefully forgetting about them for a few weeks I bought AYWAC on a whim, which I very rarely do on the back of hearing one song unless they really are THAT good.
The album is an instant classic from start to finish. It would be so easy to compare them to Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin, and I’m afraid that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The dual guitars have the unmistakable vibe of Lizzy, and the strained vocals of a frontman who is singing at a higher pitch than his larynx wishes to allow him to is reminiscent of both Lynott and Plant. It’s the bluesy element that reminds me of Zep, particularly on my favourite track of the album, ‘Can’t Keep No Good Boy Down’.
However, I’m not going to fall into the trap of implying that they’re an entirely retro and nostalgic band, that wouldn’t be fair. Their sound is fresh at the same time, by which I also mean refreshing. This stuff hasn’t been done before, not even by the old greats, despite the fact that this bunch were clearly born out of their time.
Songs like ‘When I Was An Orphan’ and ‘Angry Young Girl’ are proof of this, where both lyrics and style are completely original and touching. The only comparison I could give for the latter, for example, would be the rather obscure Real Tuesday Weld, with their tapping drums and similarly cooing and melodic velvet vocals – stark contrast to Mark Melicia’s harsher and higher tones on the rest of the album.
The epic 8.5 minute long saga that is ‘Tide Of Tears’ is a deeply emotional musical journey, and provided you have the patience to take the time to listen to such a lengthy track, it will touch you with its dark, slow tendrils of blues-rock.
Tracks like ‘Carnival Of Crows’, ‘Dead Wrong’ and ‘Real Hard Headed’ are the ones that will have you headbanging, while the slower songs will have you swaying or dancing, depending on whether they’re in major or minor.
Another thing about this album and this band is that you get the distinct impression that they’d be an absolute rocking joy to experience live, in all their long-haired boisterous glory. I see them flicking sweat across the audience as they deafen with wailing riffs already, and personally, I’ll be all over a gig of theirs as soon as they bless our fair land with a visit.
Quite simply, this is British rock with an American lilt, and I think Parlor Mob must be very aware of the country that inspired their style. For once, a singer in a classic rock band has the RIGHT to sound like a Yank when he sings.