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Over the Counter Culture
A scintillating debut, brimful of great songs performed with true conviction
Colm O Hare, 04 Aug 2004
On their much-anticipated debut The Ordinary Boys blaze a trail with some Ferdinand-like guitar crunches, lyrics for the times we live in and, more importantly, some great tunes. And with a bona-fide pop-star-in-waiting/angry-young-man in Sam Preston, the Brighton-based quartet look set to be the band of 2004.
Over The Counter Culture could only be a debut album, coming as it does in the wake of a brace of well-received singles and a growing live reputation including their Glastonbury triumph. The brassy opening title-track, like much of what follows, takes its cue from Weller & Co with a hint of Billy Bragg in the vocal intonation – but it’s the recent single ‘Talk Talk Talk’ that perfectly encapsulates all you need to know about The Boys. Three minutes of memorable riffs, call and response verses, building into rousing, anthemic chorus, the subject matter concerns the drudgery of the minimum wage, the pointlessness of a weekend on the tiles and the dread of Monday mornings. ‘Weekend Revolution’ hammers home the same message with even more forcefulness: “Friday and your five day prison, glazed eye and double vision.”
They do brilliant song titles too: ‘In Awe Of The Awful’ blends clipped rhythms, ‘London Calling’ guitar motifs and a tension-building vocal performance making it a standout. Gosh, Preston is angry here and berates bland radio programmers on ‘The List Goes On’: “Radio play just depresses me today… it all sounds the same,” he screams with the kind of passion not heard since The Jam’s ‘A Town Called Malice’.
It’s not all breakneck bluster and their sensitive side comes to the fore on ‘Just A Song’, one of those why-did-you-leave-me songs in which Preston manfully refuses to take the blame: “This song is not cathartic, because I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s just a song, just a song.” A cover of the Specials’ ‘Little Bitch’ makes total sense and wisely they stick closely to the original, while ‘Seaside’, a paean to their hometown no doubt, sounds just a tad like our own late lamented Blades – no bad thing.
In short a scintillating debut, brimful of great songs performed with true conviction. Now that’s entertainment!