Home > Bargain > The Rumble Strips – Girls and Weather

The Rumble Strips – Girls and Weather

Gigantic Music, 2007

I am pretty sure this is the best album cover I’ve ever come across in a dollar bin.  There’s been some real eye poppers and a few pretty, artsy ones, but this one is the current winner.  It’s a combination of the positioning of the band members, as well as the band logo on the immense drum, that seems to work for me.  The scenery is also spectacular, and though I have no idea why these guys are trying to get that giant thing up a hill, at least they’re taking the scenic route.  I didn’t care what these guys sounded like when I brought this album home.   I know, I could have fallen into an aesthetically quirky trap.  I’m used to it.

The Rumble Strips are British indie rock, which adds a slight level of excitement because hey, dig that British accent!  The album begins with sorrowful Charlie Waller singing that he has got “No Soul” with only a trumpet as an accompaniment.  After thirty seconds of it, if you couldn’t tell that the song is going to lift off with jubilation, then you haven’t been listening to enough modern indie music.  Hey, you’re better off than me if that’s the case, because it certainly wasn’t a surprise when the Rumble Strips promptly picked it up for an exciting conclusion.  Thankfully they don’t try to pull the same trick anywhere else on the album, for that move is a bit tired.

Aside from the accents, the Rumble Strips could get written off as just another peppy pop band with rock affectations.  However, the addition of a trumpet and saxophone does add some extra strength to the commonplace quartet of the usual instruments.  This is especially evident on the strong “Time” track, which interweaves a horn and guitar early on and, after some Waller wailing, really picks up and jumbles with a heavy dose of drums at the end.  “Alarm Clock” also includes a lot of horns, yet their sound is reminiscent of a few ska tracks I’ve heard in the past.  The horns are just enough to make rather typical British pop rock songs into a little bit more, which only makes them more appealing.

After giving this album a few listens, the only part that I still can’t seem to shake is Waller’s vocals.  Waller sounds like the guy from Art Brut if he decided to sing instead of speak most of his songs.  Better yet, if you’ve heard the Futureheads you’ll get a better idea of how Waller sings, which is slightly over the top and British.  Thing is, the Futureheads have the speed and brevity that makes each song more focused on the notes than the vocals.  By design, the Rumble Strips tend to take more time with their songs and thus Waller has more exposure.  I guess that’s what kills it for me a bit, which I’m sure may not be the case for others.

The Rumble Strips can be heard on their MySpace page but also have a working website as well.  Get your British kicks!

Despite my reservations of the vocals, the Rumble Strips are actually pretty good.  There’s plenty of indie pop rock bands out there but the musical additions, as well as the craftsmanship of the pop songs, make this for a peppy listen.  After a decent enough showing on the UK charts for their second album in 2009, the band hasn’t gotten anything out since.  Lucky for all you blokes and blokettes out there that these guys are merely taking a hiatus to write more for their next album.  Perhaps you can see them roll a drum up to a nearby club or festival stage soon enough!

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