Sunday 5 February 2012

New (to me) vintage D.I.Y. #1 : Happy Refugees

Happy Refugees I can safely say would've have bypassed me totally were it not for the good work of Acute Records and boomkat saying the following in their review of the "Return To Last Chance Saloon" compilation:

"Happy Refugees are noted favourites of US revivalists Crystal Stilts and Girls Names"

I've not fully digested the record but initial impressions are good.  "Hamburger Boy" rattles along with primitive beats, heads down but quiet guitars and fab,  non-aggressively ranted lyrics.

"Garish colours hit me from the billboard
 Feeding my greed. It's a setup!

Just one spin and you too will be lip-curling and sneering, "Please don't die on the sidewalk, it's so embarrassing!".  "Last Chance Saloon" is astonishing, Its guitars all super-trebly and rusty Brillo pad abrasive.  A less gothic take on The Birthday Party maybe?  Having said 'less gothic', there are a fair few references to death  throughout the lyrics.  On the much sparser "Bury Me", however, there are a couple of lines of innocent yearning worthy of Dan Treacy at his "Someone To Share My Life With" best:

"I just need some who can make me smile
  I just need someone who can make me cry"

"Screaming and Shouting", with its warmth and bar room piano, brings to mind Vic Godard and his Subway Sect.  There are many touches which elevate Happy Refugees above a lot of their 80s peers.  They must've sounded glorious on John Peel!  Definitely one for the Swell Maps fans.

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