Release Date: Jul 17, 2012
Record label: ATO
Anyone looking for a meeting of the minds between the Swedes and the Brits when it comes to essaying America’s Southern-rocking hemisphere need not go farther than Petter Ericson Stakee and Terry Wolfers. The singer-guitarist and bassist of Alberta Cross respectively appropriate the lolling blue country leanings, rock folksy aplomb and sultry gospel that kids love in Kings of Leon, and murk it up with the shrouded-cloud heaviness of their collective homelands. .
Taking a page from deceptively simple ‘70s rock artists like Television and Talking Heads, as well as lavishly produced British pioneers like the Rolling Stones, Brooklyn’s Alberta Cross announces itself with force on its newest LP, Songs of Patience. Although the album is relatively brief, its consistent quality and knack for intrigue and sentiment grants it a lot of staying power. Few bands make such a grand impression this easily.
The second studio album from cosmopolitan indie rock outfit Alberta Cross, which is now just Petter Ericson Stakee (Sweden) and Terry Wolfers (England), and a cast of rotating sidemen, took three years, multiple studios, and five different producers to get right. The resulting, aptly named Songs of Patience is a visceral yet carefully honed backslap of a record that sneaks up on you like a predator, then buys you a drink rather than tearing your throat out. After the release of 2009's Broken Side of Time, the group hit the road and never looked back, sharing the stage with the likes of Them Crooked Vultures, Oasis, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and it would appear that some of the heaviness of those three bands rubbed off on the duo.
Petter Ericson Stakee and Terry Wolfers met in a London pub several years ago and developed a friendship based on their shared love of American folk and country music. The two eventually began writing and recording together, and inevitably they moved to America—Brooklyn, in fact. It’d be easy to view the music they record as Alberta Cross as a mix of geographically identifiable influences, but perhaps not in the obvious ways.
London’s Alberta Cross has always used its U2-like fixation with Americana to its advantage, straddling the line between beer-swilling good ol’ boys like Kings of Leon and Union Jack-waving Brit rockers. If the band’s sophomore LP, Songs of Patience, proves anything, it’s that they have the musical chops to play either one of those roles with ease. But do we really need any more Followills or Gallaghers running around? When Alberta Cross is able to pull off this delicate balancing act (keyword: when), it results in songs that are more inventive and compelling than most of what passes for rock these days.
A dustbowl Kasabian, cranking out repetitive car- and concert-friendly chuggers. Si Hawkins 2012 Based in New York, fronted by a Scandinavian but with a country-folk aesthetic, Alberta Cross might be expected to conjure a sort of Fargo Rock, hurling a Coen Brothers-style curve ball at the Byrds/Parsons blueprint and winding up with a smorgasbord of quirky, fjord-fuelled Americana. But no.
Though it definitely suffered from having all the edges polished off – or at least sneakily left in where they existed – Alberta Cross’ debut ‘Broken Side Of Time’ was nevertheless a decent mainstream indie record. On this second effort out they’ve sanded even further down, leaving a set of tracks driven by the same swung, tambourine-and-shaker ornamented beats, the same acoustic guitar, the same vocal harmonies and the same frustratingly vague chorus lines. For all that, ‘Songs Of Patience’ is actually not bad as long as you know what to expect.