New wine

Hangover LoungeI should really plaster this with declarations of interest, as one among the folk behind the Hangover Lounge concern is a good friend of mine, but the truth is I’d be writing about their first EP regardless, because (a) it contains the first chance to hear Amor de Días, Alasdair MacLean of the Clientele’s new side venture in the company of Lupe Núñez-Fernández, and (b) it contains the first new recording by the Claim for nigh on twenty years.  So for me it’s an event as much as a record.  I wrote about the groups together once, the Clientele and the Claim, little imagining that their key players would end up in 2010 on either side of a nicely heavy slab of vinyl.

I suspect the Amor de Días album, set for sometime release on Merge, will be something of a grower (there’s a tantalising short medley from it on the Amor website).  ‘New wine’ is the first chance to hear how the sound might vary from that of the Clientele, softer and subtler even than the Lupe-featuring ‘No dreams last night’ on God save.., if that’s possible.  It’s also notable for hymning a part of London that few if any have hitherto, namely Crystal Palace.

‘Old’ is the rueful, timeless number by the Claim, a reflection on ageing and death and carrying on which they might perhaps have written back in the day (‘Dear’ on the Black path retrospective suggests as much) but seems all the more poignant for the two Daves being – ahem – that much closer themselves to the subject they’re writing about (as of course we all are).  It puts me in mind of Colin Moulding’s song ‘Dying’ on Skylarking – ‘what sticks in my mind is the sweet jar on the sideboard, and your multi-coloured tea cosy’ – and of Ray Davies.  The Claim for me were always in that league, and they still are.  An atypical typical pop group.

Of the other contributors, Hacia Dos Veranos turn in a lovelier instrumental than one called ‘The cat and the cucumber’ has any right to be, while Allo Darlin’s ‘Tallulah’ is pretty too; no prizes for guessing whom they are referencing with the title.  Funnily enough you can imagine Robert Forster doing a nicely wry cover version.

Three cheers then to the Hangover Loungers for making it happen, and for what are high quality production values for a first venture as a record label.  There are two more EPs to come, and one of them features Rozi Plain, and no doubt many of the other acts who have graced the Sunday afternoon club with their acoustic presence, so readers would be well advised to collect the set.

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