The Wave Pictures release their second album of this year with Bamboo Diner In The Rain. The blues/folk/indie trio has successfully avoided anything approaching fame and glory for over a decade now. They combine the stripped back blues of the Black Keys with the vocal style of early Noah And The Whale, Nizlopi and Billy Bragg. There’s even a bit of the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant in the lyrics and the delivery from frontman and guitarist Dave Tattersall.
The rhythm section of Franic Rozycki and Jonny Helm match Tattersall’s keening bottleneck slide and ringing hammer-ons in a robust manner reminiscent of vintage power trio Cream. Bamboo Diner In The Rain is a delight from start to finish, and that’s not to suggest it is insubstantial.
The prolific group are one-take wonders and it shows on this record. The songs sound fresh and unrehearsed. Many albums have been rehearsed to death by the time the band enters the studio but The Wave Pictures sound like they are enjoying the making of the music and there’s a whack of improvisation in the instrumental passages. Bamboo Diner In The Rain captures the spontaneity of jamming while the band impose strict structures on the songs; eliminating self-indulgence.
Things kicks off with a White Stripes-esque guitar sweep before a Link Wray surf vibe takes over for ‘Panama Hat’. It's an instantly engaging tune and the perfect start to the album. It lets you know the nature and variety of the music that is coming down the line. Tattersall also gives the listener a taste of his more esoteric lyrics with the refrain of “You made friends with my black and white cat/I never saw him take to someone new like that”.
Tattersall plays guitar in a John Fogerty manner and never more so than on ‘Now I Want To Hoover My Brain Clean’ which opens with a knowing nod to Creedence’s version of ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’. That song is countered beautifully by the opening notes of ‘Bamboo Diner Rag’ which immediately follows it. The finger picked guitars have a Trumpton/Camberwick Green feel with nursery rhyme flourishes throughout. The change in tone doesn’t jar and the band cover a lot of emotional and musical ground on Bamboo Diner In The Rain. What else would you expect from a band with such a prodigious output?
The Hammond organ on ‘Hot Little Hand’ sounds like a reference to Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds‘ ‘Red Right Hand’ and the lyrics and melody of the tune could be Cave’s own. ‘Newcastle Rain’ has playing nonsense rhyming but takes a serious blues-rock turn in its outro. The opening sound effects of a pool hall in the song of the same name lead into a subdued but righteous chorus of “Have you heard/they’re closing down the pool hall?/Have you heard/they’re turning it into flats?/Have you heard/they’re closing down the pool hall?/Have you heard?/there’s nothing that you can do about that”. Tattersall can turn the everyday into the extraordinary, and parochial concerns into universal themes.
Traditional folk instruments join the steel strings for the second instrumental tune, ‘Meeting Simon At The Airport’. Bookending Bamboo Diner In The Rain with accessible and conventional songs, ‘The Running Man’ brings proceedings to a close while begging you to press play just one more time.
Bamboo Diner In The Rain is available from amazon & iTunes.