Album Review – Butter Dish by Holy Tunics (2018) (Meritorio Records)

Despite the fact that the increasing digitization of music can tend to diminish the chances of definitive musical scenes developing, sometimes even the much denigrated evils of technology (typified by the new vinyl and cassette revolution) cannot prevent the creation of erstwhile organic musical movements within a particular geographical area. Once such scene that has definitely developed over the last few years is the indie/jangle-pop scene, in and around the area of Brooklyn, New York.
Within this ‘scene’ bands such as Olden Yolk and Japanese Breakfast have provided the disheveled and intellectual ‘not quite lo-fi’, end of the jangle spectrum, Maths and Physics Club and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have become celebrated exponents of the ‘sweeter guitar’ end of the jangled indie-pop and a band such Crystal Stilts has flirted with indie rock whilst still just about managing to stay sweet enough for scene membership.

This debut album from the Holy Tunics only deals with the polar opposites of the above jangle spectrum. Their primary sound is very much in the Olden Yolk sphere with the vocals of Nick Rogers (also plays lead guitar) going just that octave higher than Shane Butler‘s whilst still retaining that sort of semi-interested deadpan veneer that is the very essence of what made Australia’s early 90s Triple J movement so ridiculously cool.

Tracks such as Good Advice, Happy Sunday, Victoria and the superlative Fabric (That I Felt) (see live version below) lead the way in providing the album with a foundation that is irresistible in its controlled ramshackle vibe and understatement.

Fabric (That I Felt)(Live)

Despite dominating the majority of the album’s musical landscape the above ramshackle jangle is not where this release truly excels. In fact, despite being ridiculously cool when reveling in understatement, the album only really becomes truly airborne when the band add some acceleration to the tempo/attitude and produces a sound that would just about flop accross the border of indie rock territory if the increased Paisley Underground styled crunch of the the guitar work on tracks such as Limelights, Tell Me True and the true stand out and opener Cardinal (see below) were not quite so ‘jangle-pretty’. It is a sound that reminds me of  RVG and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and the extra attitude they wrap into their jangled guitar work.

It will be interesting to see where Holy Tunics go from here? Whether they are tempted into a more expansive sound in their next ‘difficult sophomore album’ or whether all things Brooklyn remains good enough for them remains to be seen…It is certainly good enough for me.

Artist Links

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Label Links

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