Southall Riot

The Amplifier Morning

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If ever a band had their heart lovingly stolen by '60s guitar pop, Southall Riot did. Since the mid-'90s the London duo that make up Southall Riot have released a strong catalog of singles, EPs, and the occasional eight-track cartridge (by their own group as well as the equally dreamy Hot Chip and Ansuz Lunasa) on their own Victory Garden label. Southall Riot's The Amplifier Morning EP finds that the band has managed to improve upon their already brilliant sound. Whereas earlier EPs, notably Quality Goods, seemed to show the band enthralled with exploring the possibilities of electronic gizmos as applied to '60s psychedelic pop, Amplifier Morning finds the band singing merrily amid waves of echo and acoustic guitars. The opening strains of the bouncy title track "Amplifier Morning" have an almost sitar-esque feel, contributing to the sense one gets of the band's love for vintage rock. Think of Syd Barrett, the Turtles, and Guided by Voices and the Apples in Stereo genetically woven together to create an unstoppable musical force (who'd want to stop it?). "No Day Week" is a perky instrumental so beautifully done that it bops through the speakers so pleasantly that listeners almost don't notice it. Reverb-drenched and fuzzy like a lovely dream, "Heart Shape Baby" finds honey-dipped boy/girl vocals drifting along a melody that calls to mind a retooled "Surgical Focus." (Rest assured, the title and the song have absolutely no connection to Nirvana's similarly titled noise rock anthem.) Album closer "Marshal Joe Rides Again," with its percussive acoustics, whistling, and layered choral-style vocals, calls to mind something of a warped soundtrack for a spaghetti western. An instantly endearing combo, Southall Riot's music is best described as having the feel of being made in the not-so-distant past by musicians trying to imagine what music would sound like in a Hollywood-created future ruled by computers and men in foil suits. Vintage music and retro sounds are used as inspiration, not a crutch, to create futuristic retro indie rock for pot-smoking robots. Extraordinarily charming.

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