When I was a teen, in the pre-internet days of information scarcity when facts and alternative facts existed but didn’t flood the ether, I thought The Fall’s Live at the Witch Trials was an actual ‘live’ album… I know, don’t laugh.
Swansea Sound’s Live at the Rum Puncheon also isn’t a ‘live’ album, although it’s location was a real place (long gone legendary Swansea pub, famous for many things and referred to as, you saw this coming, ‘the rum and punch up‘) but more importantly beyond titling similarities what both albums have in common is a serious attitude, I say ‘serious’ but that’s as in deadly serious but thankfully an emotion carried lightly and with a huge dollop of dry wit and sheer fun. You may be like me, in that you react to the word ‘fun’ with deep suspicion, but don’t worry this isn’t the dreaded enforced fun but rather that irresistible infectious brilliance that exists at the exact nexus of ridiculousness and pure genius, think Denim, in concept, minus the novelty rock angle.
If you read many press releases you will soon learn some are unintelligible, most at best fairly liberal with the truth and the rest really dull, some all three. Swansea Sounds’ is actually pretty entertaining and signs off with the quietly defiant words: ‘This album will not be released on streaming sites’. Quixotic maybe, but who cares? By taking a stand they make me feel better and sometimes that’s all that matters. As Mr Lydon once said (long before getting a taste for the promotion of hydrogenated fats), ‘anger is an energy’. Directed creatively it can indeed be a powerful source of inspiration, and even if it’s not always outright anger but more a general sense of being hacked off, then that’s useful as well. In this case, as your grandad might say, Swansea Sound are ‘spitting tacks’.
And they start as they mean to go on: Rock and Roll Void is a pretty perfect statement of intent, an elegant palate cleanser of noise and Ramones referencing ramalama rush, but what makes it extra great is that it doubles as an existential journey into the heart of our relationship with music and what makes us who we are, just the basic questions really. Great BVs from Amelia as well.
Then just time to breathe in and appreciate what must be song title of the year, I Sold My Soul on Ebay. Stop the presses because this is a genuinely funny song that doesn’t get on your nerves, I mean who needs a soul anyway these days? Many of our craven leaders seem to prosper without one so I say ‘sell, sell’! I won’t quote the lyrics at length but Amelia’s ‘someone get a doctor!’ interjections crack me up every time. More kicking of the unsatisfying banality of streaming music as well, so that’s good.
Oh no, The Pooh Sticks is even funnier, so scrub what I just said, a belligerent swagger of indie history, rhyming Reading Festival with ‘best of all’ and ending with that sure fire guarantee of a truthful reminiscence, ‘no word of a lie’. What can I say? Genius.
Elsewhere we have I’m OK When You’re Around offering much needed tenderness and reassurance in the face of the facist threat and then the Comet Gain-like anti-maskers satire Freedom of Speech. Why are those with unrivalled access to mass communication channels always the ones who feel they’re being ‘cancelled’ and seriously don’t they realise masks hid a multitude of sins? Jeez.
We covered Corporate Indie Band, Angry Girl and Indies of the World way back in September last year and February of this, respectively, so all I’ll say is that time hasn’t dimmed the potency of their acidic barbs.
I could go on, but surely you must already have placed your pre-order by now?
Bear in mind Swansea Sound spring from the collective sick (in all the best ways) minds of Pooh Stick Hue Williams and conspirators Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey and Ian Button, several of whom were involved in creating one of the albums of the year via the Catenary Wires’ Birling Gap, so this is starting to feel like an indie hit factory minus the actual ‘hits’.
If you’re understandably flagging at this point in 2021, Live at the Rum Puncheon may just provide the adrenaline shot you need to make it over the line to whatever delights 2022 decides to bestow upon us and, importantly, it will make you smile at the sheer absurdity of it all.