Savage Mansion – Weird Country
- David Pollock
- 30 March 2020
Follow-up to last year's Revision Ballads illustrates different sides of Glasgow's musical influences with personality and humour
Savage Mansion's Craig Angus describes 'Karaoke', the opening track on his band's second album Weird Country, as 'an homage to Glasgow, a … complex, troubled, fucked-up place,' and it's a feeling which permeates the record. 'When that train hits Central / you'll sing all my favourite songs,' he pines, as slide guitar rings in the background alongside a buoyant piano bed, soundtracking his evocation of a perfect night out in the city. 'I might stick to this town now, forever / forever.'
As country – of the alt variety, in particular – goes, this follow-up to last year's Revision Ballads isn't all that weird, but different sides of Glasgow's musical influences are illustrated on the record; particularly those with a transatlantic view, especially quirkily melodic, Pavement-style alternative rock and a dose of the classic country-rock sound of the American West Coast of 50 years gone by. The influence of Teenage Fanclub (and in turn, of their influences) is strong here, amid the squalling indie-rock of 'Monument' and the slowed-down groove and yearning harmonies of 'Screaming Speed Machine', its name summing up the opposite of the song's sound.
With members of Catholic Action and Martha Ffion's band playing alongside him, as well as Lost Map talisman Romeo Taylor, Angus' songs are marked not just by his enjoyable adherence to one version of a classic indie sound, but by the presence of his own personality and humour as a songwriter and lyricist. 'My search engine's Chrome / look at all of my tabs,' he announces with a silly flourish on 'Taking the Four'; and on the title track, a travelogue of the city populated by characters like 'Mount Florida's Neil Young' and choice lines which roll around in the mind, the double-meaning of that title is made clear.
With songs about Italian immigration into Scotland ('Old Country') and those from here who fought in the Spanish Civil War ('The International'), the record's themes of cultural openness, internationalism and self-critique aren't far from the surface, yet they're delivered in such glowing, self-possessed fashion as to be only available to those who wish to pick them out. The music is for all.
Out Fri 3 Apr on Lost Map.