Americanised English

American Blues Rock that is utter guff from Oxford


Little Brother Eli have beards and waistcoats. They look like The Band used to look when they were in their heyday in the late sixties / early seventies, had there been a Topshop in downtown Woodstock. Is it just me or do most young folk look like Edwardian explorers these days?

On June 24, Little Brother Eli release an album of ten tracks called Cold Tales.

Yes, Cold Tales. And they are called Little Brother Eli. And the picture on their (under construction) website sees them all standing in front of a trailer (or what we call a static caravan) wearing waistcoats, beards and fine shoes. The photograph is black and white, it could have been sepia but – of course – never colour.

Little Brother Eli are from Oxford, England. I’m confused, but then I am old and I’m allowed to be confused. Oxford has always produced quintessentially English sounding bands like Radiohead, Supergrass, Ride and Swervedriver.

There’s no doubt about it, this band can play and the music in this collection of songs sounds very produced. Opening track Oceans starts with a clean phased guitar that reminds me ever so slightly of Soundgarden, then a chorus slams in with enough Stilton to make your ears curdle. Straight after the chorus we get a few textbook rock clichés delivered with as much rockiness as a public schoolboy reciting Latin. Track two, Who Do You is one cliche after the next. It’s almost unlistenable painting by numbers music with no shred of integrity. Is this what they call Americana? The chorus of is sung in that funny way that so many bands sing in, it’s like a sort of vowel-fucking, lemon-sucking sound that is already hackneyed.

Track six is the moment I’ve been dreading, the moment I knew would come. It starts with an acoustic guitar strum-along and nods it’s head to that other band that wear waistcoats and are really bland; Mumford And Sons. As I’m sitting here listening to this I’m actually starting to feel ill, like I’ve been forcefed a turd that’s already been forced down the throats of the masses.

It’s nothing against Little Brother Eli themselves, per se, but it’s nothing that we haven’t heard – repeatedly regurgitated onto our ear drums – before. A couple of years ago there was a pandemic spreading across modern music: classique warbler Adele was taking over, folk-cliché troubadours Mumford and Sons were rising and Acoustic axe-wielder Ed Sheeran was gaining momentum. It was the age of beige. Unfortunately, while each of those artists adapted and became mildly more interesting, it seems that some bands haven’t quite outgrown that sound.

Save the fact that this band entered a studio, I have nothing against Little Brother Eli themselves, per se, but it’s nothing that we haven’t heard before. Cold Tales finds a band producing a sound that is quite possibly able to be accepted by a demographic that is completely abstract to me and my beliefs. So be it. What started with Wonderwall, gave way to Travis and Coldplay,and then Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons has perhaps left a void for Cold Tales to find it’s audience. May God have mercy on us all.


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