One of the best things about being a reviewer are the unexpected surprises, the albums you were not expecting or not expecting a lot from. Some of my all time favourite releases have been promos that I have listened to on a whim or because I liked the album cover (take a bow Moron Police).
When the promo email for ‘Norwegian happy campers’ Vestamaran dropped in the inbox I actually don’t know what made me take a listen but, boy I’m glad I did!
“Rising from the ashes of the band Father Of A Thousand Kids the Askøy ( an island just outside the city of Bergen ) the group Vestamaran do release their debut album ” Bungalow Rex” 18/6. Featuring members from Ribosyme, Knekklectric, The Danny Cannon Show amongst others from the infamous Bergen scene. Check them out 🙂“, it exhorted.
Self-classified as ‘low octane rock music from the happy campers…’, it is a wonderfully (and wilfully) eclectic collection of songs that will just make you smile… a lot…
The jangly, care free tone of the guitar that opens the album on Error come save me gives you a little taste of what is to come, music that is chock full of life, love and utter joy. There’s a nostalgic, retro vibe to the music that takes it cue from the indie rock that took over the world in the 90’s.
Risky Pigeon has a funky, strutting guitar riff and superb, distinctive vocals to give it real swagger and this confidence flows throughout an album where the song titles are definitely tongue in cheek in places. Swag is a soaring, anthemic track that would have graced any stadium in the 1990’s and on Cutest offender you hear the first hint of an underlying Kings of Leon homage, it’s a ballsy, edgy piece of music with sharp guitars, stylish drumming and super cool vocals all adding layers of style.
My Finest Eye sees the band go all Americana and Alt-Country on us. An emotive and powerful ballad that pulls at the heartstrings before Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash make an appearance from beyond the grave (or appear to at least!) on the wonderfully dramatic Solitude. Now, imagine how cool it would be if Joe Jackson did a collaboration with Kings of Leon, a bit far fetched? Well not if you just allow me a bit of latitude and listen to the brilliant and incomparable Grustak.
Country rock and blues combine on the strutting majesty of Salt chair, an idiosyncratic guitar riff struts throughout the track with utter self confidence to give the song well deserved bluster. Follow me has a driving hard rock flourish to it akin to early Foo Fighters, anticipation building with every note and that edgy, insistent riff and vocal giving real presence. For me, the best is saved until last as we are gifted the best song that Kings of Leon never wrote, Only for you is just utterly sublime songwriting at its best. Perfect musicianship and honest, heartfelt vocals combine for five minutes of near musical perfection.
So, get your hands on this album and, when the sun shines, get the barbecue lit, an ice cold beer in your hand, put the stereo on, turn it up to 11 and just enjoy this incredible album for, as the press release says, “Life is not just bungalow all day long, it also includes a lot of rex in the evenings.”
Released 18th June, 2021
Order the CD here:
Order the vinyl here:
Listen to Risky Pigeon (and order the album in the EU) here: