William The Conqueror
Proud Disturber Of The Peace
The main personnel on this set are Harry Harding ( drums, bass, vocals, percussion), Naomi Holmes (bass, vocals, trumpet, sax) and one Ruarri Joseph (vocals, guitar, keys, harmonica). That’s quite impressive, no? Well OK, it depends how they sound! Well OK, let’s spin it….
Starting track In My Dreams drifts in on a splash of tremelo’d electric guitar before a fast-strummed acoustic sets the chord progression and the electric returns. The vocal is carefully delivered at a gentler pace than the backdrop, the melody somehow evoking John Hiatt but with Arthur Lee phrasing. Whatever, this quick dense sound seems to work and the South Of The Border mood is quite hypnotic. I would have lengthened this and added a trumpet.
Tend To The Thorns hints at driven psych rock, again the fast rhythm guitar injects a nervous pulse that you would normally associate with city music, not country-infused music…Cactus Underground, anyone? Even when everything stops but the vocal, the insistent rhythm guitar trills on. Enough melody to make the song hold together.
Did You Wrong takes a rockabilly swing not far from Bad Moon Rising and another clear vocal tells the tale. Soon slightly buzzy guitars are playing across the core beat but that rhythm guitar never lets up. Some electric piano would fit on this. A lo-fi guitar run rolls into earshot. This is Jace Everett territory, pretty much. Pedestals is taken at a steady lope with rich chording dropped across the beat. At least that angry rhythm guitar has relented, so we can relax a little.
Sunny Is The Style is even more relaxed, with reedy harp (a G) and ponderous beat. You almost expect Neil Young to start singing. This number is a tad lifeless.
The Many Faces Of A Good Truth delivers its steady piano clang and rumbling bass, hip hop drumbeat and slide guitar all over an ominous Crazy Horse style build. Now they are grabbing my full attention back. This works so well – it’s the track I would play to the uninitiated. At 2:45 a timid guitar solo starts then it toughens up over the horn slabs. This could have gone on for ever, for me but no the vocal is back. More guitar, this is grooving, short delay and all. Five minutes of ace music.
The title song is shimmering guitar and a humming intro. Maybe the best vocal on the record. One minute in and the whole ensemble toughens up, snare cracking away. Maybe these cats like The Velvet Underground’s Loaded? The vibe is very similar on this album. Cold Ontario has a pulse but sounds pastoral, almost like a track from John Wesley Harding. Excellent lyric, here and his voice has been consistently good throughout the programme. Mind Keeps Changing uses a Jimmy Reed soft chug on a happy go lucky song that I can imagine is a good setlist choice or set-starter.
Closing track Manawatu is elemental folk, lonesome harp evoking dusk by a lake and sending the set out on a gentle roll.
I can see myself playing this one a few times not least for the intriguing lyrics and beguiling low-fi insistence. This crew has their own sound and Jimmy Buffett and Jonathan Richman fans may find this album a good listen.
William The Conqueror’s debut album ‘Proud Disturber Of The Peace’ is out now on Loose Records.
For more information and tour dates visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2vBRGz8