Saint Agnes are a sort of side project of the band Lola Colt, who peddle a kinda of psychedelic hippie big band type thing. It looks nice and sounds nice, but it doesn’t really do anything for me.
On the other hand, Saint Agnes themselves are a different thing altogether. They’ve really gone for the American Gothic vibe that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds did so well with their 1992 masterpiece, Henry’s Dream, and they’ve more or less hit the nail on the head. Doing the whole Cowboy Punk thing means a firm commitment to walking the line (*ahem*) between the straight faced and the ludicrous. I mean, look the Fields Of The Nephilim:
Go on: LOOK AT THEM
Yeah, you see my point anyway. I think Saint Agnes must be pretty well aware of this. One has only to watch the teaser video for the new single to get the idea that they’re probably enjoying themselves, despite the straight faced, tight lipped seriousness of their deep, dark gothic blues.
The song itself is great, in a straightforward boot stomping sort of way. Western sounding kick drum/tambourine beat? Check. Overdriven, repetitive guitar/bass riff? Check. Dynamic breakdowns with sinister sounding hammond organ? Check. Then, just as you think they’re playing it safe as houses, the whole thing falls apart into a tense, cinematic organ-fest that suddenly pulls together again into a fuzzy-as-fuck guitar solo outro. They’ve avoided the tendency of “psych” bands to make overly long and extremely boring non songs and instead opted for a hard hitting, heavily stylised chunk of rock and roll. Good for them.
This 7″ single A side was plucked off an earlier demo EP that has quickly been hidden from public view (I suspect an unexpectedly positive reaction has prompted them to do it again a little more high profile). The EP contained 2 other original songs and a cover of The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues. They’ve opted to use the cover as the B side which, since they’re an almost entirely unknown quantity in the music scene at large, gives the record something to grab people’s attention. Fair play, it’s a good cover. They’ve toned down the original song’s beer hall beat (they’ve already played that hand in their A side) and made it a smokier, druggier number. Different from, yet entirely faithful to, the style of the original.
I’ll tell you for nothing that the other songs on the EP were every bit as strong as Old Bone Rattle (albeit stylistically similar) and I’m almost disappointed they haven’t made an appearance here. The memorable “The Tower Falls” would arguably have made an even stronger B side for this single, so I can only hope that there’s an album shortly on the way.
The single is launched on June 10th at The Sebright Arms on Hackney Road, London. It’s due for release on Energy Snake Records, which the more astute of you will remember is Vuvuvulture’s own label. Great to see a small, home grown independent start widening its reach. I have high hopes.
I wish they wouldn’t describe themselves as “Tarantino/Lynch style music” though. Even The Nephs stopped short of actually referring to themselves as Spaghetti Western Goth. It was daft then and it’s daft now.