Release Date: Feb 24, 2014
Record label: Cherry Red
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It's been a bit more than a quarter century since the Woodentops last released an album, and 2014's Granular Tales doesn't suggest the reunited band has tried to make an album that would convince us nothing has changed since Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway dropped in 1988. This edition of the Woodentops -- in which original members Rolo McGinty (vocals), Simon Mawby (guitar), and Frank de Freitas (bass) are joined by drummer Paul Ashby, pianist Richard Thomas, and keyboardist Aine O'Keeffe -- lacks a bit of the youthful energy of their heyday, with slower tempos and melodies that sound more contemplative than their work of the '80s, and Granular Tales reveals significantly less of the acoustic undertow they delivered on their touchstone album, 1986's Giant. But the steady pulse and frequent percussive bursts that dominate these songs certainly hark back to the Woodentops' beat-crazy glory days, and also provide a bridge to the dance music that's been a major part of McGinty's post-Woodentops résumé.
Let’s go back to the ’80s. Not the ’80s where leg-warmers, snoods and linen jackets with the sleeves rolled up ruled the roost though. Rather, let’s go back to that weird, quirky and slightly intimidatingly cool world of ’80s indie. A world where that word didn’t mean four white skinny guys in black jeans signed to Columbia, but where indie actually meant indie, where names like The June Brides, The Field Mice and The Shop Assistants ruled the roost.
We live in an era defined by our predilection for nostalgia, and with that comes the inevitability of comebacks; of course – music is cyclical, we all know that now, thanks to Alex Turner's well-meant but awkwardly sapless Brit Awards speech. And because of its "cyclical nature", never more so than the present has independent guitar-based music of the 1980s been so revived and revered - take 2013's meticulously compiled Scared To Get Happy box set, which chronicles indie pop's epoch and reiterates the early days of bands like Primal Scream and Prefab Sprout. Its story was one that seemed more comprehensively wrought than most of its kind, in turn inciting a new dewy-eyed nostalgia for yesteryear.