Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade

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The industrious Damien Youth is responsible for numerous '90s and 2000s indie psychedelic folk projects under his own name and as a collaborator with various other musicians. Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade…
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The industrious Damien Youth is responsible for numerous '90s and 2000s indie psychedelic folk projects under his own name and as a collaborator with various other musicians. Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade is another of his side projects, and the most fun, lighthearted one. Although the back cover lists and pictures three bandmembers -- Julian Star, Oliver Crumb, and Biff -- in fact, all of the music was played and written by Damien Youth and Zane Armstrong. The sleeve of their LP Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade... Is Coming signifies that this is an archival release of a lost band active from 1967-1970 (all the tracks are dated with years from that span). In fact, however, this was recorded shortly before its 1999 release date. In effect, Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade are to Damien Youth and Zane Armstrong what the Dukes of Stratosphear were to XTC: a fictitious alter ego under which to indulge their love for classic British psychedelia. The difference, of course, is that XTC is pretty well known, whereas Damien Youth and Zane Armstrong could hardly be more unknown.

To stretch the parallels with the Dukes of Stratosphear further, Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade... Is Coming sounds a lot like something the Dukes of Stratosphear might have cooked up. It's not as good as the Brit-psych it's modeled after, very little revivalist music is, after all. But the songs are reasonably convincing emulations of the lighter side of the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, and indeed the lighter side of late-'60s British psychedelia as a whole. The mid-tempo pianos, periodic brass, flowery lyrics, and overall chipper feel also bring to mind the Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles and, much more arcane, the fine cult group Tomorrow. The sleeve is designed in such a way to even more convincingly emulate limited-edition late-'60s collector reissues, of the sort you see selling for way too much money in specialist London record shops. Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade also issued a 7" with the "single versions" of "House of Small" and "Frumpy and the Strange Machine."