George Washington Brown
On the night plain
A bit like putting a platter on the hi-fi and finding you’ve inadvertently uncorked the pop genie from the bottle. Limited to just 500 vinyl copies all packaged with an accompanying CD for those heathens who’ve long since swapped their turntables for the hot new portable MP3 player and now spend their evenings miserably mourning the fleeting memory of the feel and smell of vinyl as they download their cyber tunes from an internet record store, ‘on a night plain’ parades though all the facets of feel good perky power pop from the dB’s to the Doleful Lions and back again.
George Washington Brown was in a former life Johnny X the sticksman of Kenickie fame who shone brightly and briefly in the final flourishes of Brit Pop. Re-emerging several years later under the guise of J Xaverre, ‘the bingo wings’ EP was a princely pop packing poke in the eye that featured in my much humbled opinion one of the best cuts to have graced the noughties in the shape of ’saturday’. A handful of releases via Memphis Industries followed in quick succession culminating in the simply breathtaking ’these acid stars’ full length. And then silence. Until now that is.
‘On the night plain’ is a flirtatious example in the crafting of shimmering candy pop, featuring ten cuts of exquisitely light headed exuberance Pete Gofton (for it is he who is Johnny X, J Xaverre and George Washington Brown) goes thumbing threw his record collection to carve out a superb sun dazed pastiche of homely pop, from the opening soft brush of the snow trod sleigh bells that introduce ’it still rains’ your immediately put on alert to something special filtering from out of the speakers, soon delicately dissolving into spectral tingles, Gofton tenderly works his pop wand to sprinkle his measured and mercurial prowess, from its shy eyed shell this fragile babe timidly unfurls in stature to evolve into a glowing celebratory radiating beauty. Then there’s no stopping the blighter, from there in Gofton soundtracks a magical ride across pop’s backwaters manifesting into a mutant myriad of sounds that sources elements of west coast, 60’s bubblegum and razor sharp effervescent grooves with Van Dyke Parks obsessions (no further evidence needed than on ‘barricade upstairs’) while slyly referencing labels such as Parasol, Elephant 6 (just hook up to ‘homecoming hair‘ with its dustily light headed reclining countrified breeze a la Of Montreal / Neutral Milk Hotel), Bus Stop and Summershine.
From the amorous to audaciously addictive euphoric pop thrust of ’Starlight’ with its honey tipped struts – think of a crystalline hey day Velvet Crush tweaked and honed by Cheap Tricks and the Motors to the ridiculously spellbinding romance laden pastoral tranquillity of the homecoming genteel twin set that is ’see yourself right – parts 1 and 2’ which deliciously nibbles into the same stately pastures of the Dream Academy (though be warned of the Adam and the Ants styled twin drumming meets Joe Meek disruptive wooziness at the back end of ’part 2’) – ’on the night plain’ never ceases to amaze with its ability to throw you constantly on the back foot while simultaneously slowly but stealthily eking its way through your defences. And just when you think you are beginning to get a little comfy in your ability to pre-empt the next strike out gets pulled gems such as the chilled psychedelic meets music hall crookedness of ’Voicemail’ with its faux lysergic glazed Beatle-esque motifs or the gorgeously crooked thrill pop of ‘the no good’ which had us double taking a dream collaboration between ’Town and Country’ era Ashley Park and ’don’t breathe a word’ era Kevin Tihista. I won’t even bother saying its essential audio apparel because I kind of reckon you’ve already figured that one out for yourself.
Key tracks –
It still rains
The no good
from December 2007