State Cows have been making excellent westcoast/yacht rock music since 2010. Always unashamed in their retro-ness, the band have delighted fans across the world with various self-penned homages to Toto, Steely Dan and late 70s Doobie Brothers. There’s nothing obviously original about the Cows’ choice of style, but there’s no denying they do it better than most…and even after so many years, the fact that this most American of sounds was perfected somewhere in Sweden is a fact that still amazes.
In October 2019, US dream pop duo Cathedral Bells gave fans a taste of their upcoming album when they released a new single ‘Ephemeral’. The track gave everyone everything they’d hoped for with a hazy throwback to 90s dreampop and shoegaze, all the while still showcasing the band’s gift for a vaguely gothy melody.
With a truckload of 60s riffs, an organ sound stolen from ? & The Mysterians and a frivolous sense of humour, 45 Rally deliver something special on their 2019 release ‘Tweets For My Sweet’. Not only do their sounds serve up a few lovingly created homages to a garage rock past, but they juxtapose their love of the retro with the more modern concept of social media used for malicious purposes.
As the title more than hints, ‘Tweets For My Sweet’ blends the familiar concept of 60s teenage love and other things with a bunch of Donald Trump’s most awful tweets, creating a potent mix of retro sounds and sensationalism. Not that 45 Rally use any of this to create any big(ly) political statements – more as a springboard for hooky choruses and fun. Obviously, though, when it’s made so obvious how and where the songs got their names, there’ll always be a certain feeling of commentary…even if, as in this case, its more of an impish subversiveness.
A cult hero from Boston, Nat Freedberg has recorded with The Titanics, The Clamdiggers, The Flies…and likely lots of other acts labelled with the definitive article. Always a champion of a natural sound, his best works have a very old spirit and the best bits of 2019’s ‘Better Late Than Never’ could stand alongside Strange Majik in terms of exuding an all-round retro cool…at least on musical terms.
In 2011, something unexpected happened. The most perfect homage to American westcoast pop sounds appeared in the shape of a debut album by a band named State Cows. Bits of Toto, Airplay, Maxus and pretty much everything with that vibe from 1978-81 was reborn in an almost flawless contemporary recording. It was almost impossible to tell whether the recordings had been sitting in a vault since 1980. Even more unbelieveable, these wondrous American sounds were recreated in a much less sunny Sweden. For westcost lovers, tracks like ‘New York Town’ and the wryly humorous ‘Stella By The Barlight’ became fast and firm favourites. Two years on, the aptly named ‘The Second One’ brought more of the same, but was perhaps a little weaker in places. Not that State Cows had lost their knack for retro sounds – the songs were very strong; it was more that element of surprise was gone.