Review of Gramercy Arms' EP Shining Bright.
Named after a boho Manhattan apartment block and consisting of a porous line up drawn from the body corporate of East Coast indie royalty, there was every reason to initially treat Gramercy Arms with suspicion. However, before you could say 'Artistic co-operative' their eponymous debut album - released last summer - unashamedly rolled out the sunshine and good times of Cal-if-orn-iyaay.
Culled from the album, the title track reveals an affectionate ear for the pristine country rock of Big Star, reflecting a tone throughout which is more bible belt than surf's up. Uncomplicated and melancholy, the piano led minimalism of Walking Around - featuring background vocals from Joan "As Policewoman (Of-the-moment)" Wasser - showcases the authenticity of frontman Dave Derby's period Elvis Costello impression. It's best moment though is the beautifully crafted, mournful Fell Apart 10, the gentle slide and candle flicker boy-girl harmonies summoning up all the gingham pathos of early period Cowboy Junkies.
From then on things go from the sublime to the vaguely ridiculous, with the Nashville inspired instrumental Laramie rubbing shoulders with Shining Bright's second appearance, this time in the guise of an utterly superfluous dance-pop remix. On balance then mildly diverting, but better probably to wait it out for the next full chapter.