TURNSTILE JUNKPILE –
EVERYTHING IS CHEAPER THAN IT LOOKS
2012 – Requisite Nasty Records
This excellent seven track recording is the first by London based Turnstile Junkpile and promises much for the future with their descriptive well played and sung tales that range from a rootsy rock to classic alt. country rock with a little swampiness at times in the mix. Seven songs is not a lot on which to judge the quality of a band but the songs are all played with skill and confidence and because of the variations in roots, tempos and feel I’m pretty
sure that had it contained more songs of the quality on offer it would have garnered a higher score. Their influences are probably bands such as The Band, Flying Burrito brothers and The Byrds but they are not copyists, having their own style in what is predominately the alt. country field.
The band consists of Mat Clark on vocals, guitars, keyboards and harmonica, Ben Sumner plays pedal steel, lap steel, banjo and vocals, with Lawrence McNamara on bass and vocals and Dave Shaw on drums. Clark also does most of the songwriting but with the rest of the band helping the blend with their opinions and expertise. The above mix of instruments gives a clue to what can be expected on the album and if you are a fan of alt. country I can’t imagine you will be disapointed with the contents of this recording. The playing is always good and Clark’s warm expressive vocals and the tremendous harmonies are probably the real strongpoint, although his songwriting and the band playing are not far behind. He has a nice poetic writing style that gives a really good balance to the songs, which whilst some are standard tales of lost or nearly lost love there are several that have powerful stories attached to them.
Album opener Time Is Running Out, sets the scene as regards instrumentation with it’s nice jangling guitars and banjo plus the warm expressive vocals and harmonies on a melodic loping
country rock song about the passing of time, and thanks to the excellent writing
and all round performance actually gives the feeling of time passing with it’s plaintively mellow sound. Wishing Well has a nice banjo introduction followed by the gorgeous steel guitar and
terrific harmonies on an excellent country rock song, belied by the theme that quite succinctly sums up religious fervor and much of the hypocrisy that goes hand in hand with it. A strange and unusual song that taken in the context of it’s relevance to current events, contains quite a brave set of lyrics, but smoothed out somewhat by the gorgeous sounds and harmonies. In The Morning is a lovely slow
ballad with nicely strummed banjo, the usual excellent vocals and harmonies and eventual inclusion of the gorgeous steel guitar. It’s an evocative song about a relationship that may have run it’s course, although any decisions can be left till morning! The vocals and indeed the song itself sounds a little like a countrified ‘Ram’ era Paul McCartney, that could perhaps have fitted on that album! Title track Everything Is Cheaper Than It Looks is another powerful story with a heavy drum introduction and a haunting banjo on a dark sounding swampy feeling tale that is a poetic descriptive story of a sweat shop/general store!
If this had been a ‘full length’ album and had the songs been of similar quality the album would certainly have had an even higher rating. They are a talented band with some strong songs an outstanding lead vocalist, tremendous harmonies and a nice balance to their playing and instrumentation that makes their future look very bright!