Deliberately assembled, or recklessly thrown together from the patrons of a New York...
Robert Jackman 2008
Super-group Gramercy Arms features members of Joan As Police Woman, Guided By Voices and The Dambuilders - enough to draw in anyone with an ear for the New York indie scene. Toss in backing vocals from anti-pc comedienne, Sarah Silverman, and a fleeting appearance from Nada Surf's Matthew Caws, and you're left asking whether the band were deliberately assembled or just recklessly thrown together from the patrons of a New York VIP lounge.
But despite all the cooks, the broth still tastes pretty sweet. Gramercy Arms' self-titled album is pleasing, varied, and above all, perfectly timed. With its breezy, cloud-watching ambience, it's the perfect album to take the edge of the summer's heat. With its charming use of hand-claps, smile-spreading choruses, and bah-bahing backing vocals, it might even provide a timely tonic for credit crunch worries.
However, occasional fumbles let the album down. Case in point: the scuzzy drill of opening track Automatic. Jagged and hasty, the track is a brash introduction to the band, and a rushed and clumsy start to the album. On the average album, this might be a bit of a downer. But, when an album lasts no longer than half an hour, a duff track is quite the blow.
Still, by the time the twinkling pop of Looking At The Sun has worked its magic, that's just one of many worries that have been extinguished. Suddenly, the album feels soothing and playful, and - you’ll be pleased to find - it’s all like that from here on in.