Every genre has a holy trinity, for prog it’s Yes, King Crimson and Pink Floyd, metal is Led Zep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, NWOBH is Iron Maiden, Saxon, Def Leppard, neo prog has IQ, Marillion and Pallas and now Rushdenbeat has it’s trinity, you have the Fierce and the Dead, Orange Clocks and now presenting their debut EP, The Paperweight Array, the third leg to the mighty sound that is Rushdenbeat, which is, to my mind the defining sound of 2017.
After my review for Progarchy about Orange Clocks, I inadvertently coined the phrase ‘Rushdenbeat’ and suddenly it took a life of it’s own on, with a Facebook group and a # as well!
Following this Aaron Hemmington got in touch and sent me a copy of the bands debut EP Transmissions from a Distant Star, a three-track introduction to their psychedelic world.
For those who aren’t aware Rushden (as per our good friend Professor Wikipedia) is part of the county of Northamptonshire, and was home to such luminaries as H E Bates, darts player James Richardson, and of course (although Wikipedia needs updating) Matt Stevens.
What is it about small English towns that can be the epicentre of something new and exciting?
I grew up in Rotherham, where the best thing going for it was the road to Sheffield where all the decent record stores were, and yet from 1991 onwards Rotherham had been home to the Classic Rock Society, and a Northern pulse for progressive rock, handy if you happened to be 17, into prog and on a bus route into town!
It seems as Matt Stevens himself has questioned on Facebook, that pre-internet, when you were in a small town, certain things either passed you by, or you found yourself in a particular group of friends where certain locations and musical tastes influenced you.
I remember saving all my money from my summer job for a trip down to London because the record stores there would have far more rare and esoteric albums, and I wasn’t able to just log in using my smart phone, search them and then buy them.
I think the mid 90’s were the golden days of record collecting, where finding music was much more of a hunt, more of a chase, and you appreciated listening to it more because you had put so much more effort into it.
That is the same with bands from smaller towns, Rushden I would imagine, like Rotherham would be bypassed by all the big names, and so if you wanted to hear the music you liked, then the only way to do it would be to form a band and play it yourself.
That is the ethos that runs through Rushdenbeat and so many other small town bands making a big noise.
Transmissions from a Distant Star, starts with the title track, some fantastic spiky guitar work and then a wonderfully spacey chorus that brings to mind a whole mix of sounds, there’s elements of XTC, some Canterbury scene and a whole summer of ’67 vibe carrying through the sound.
A perfect way to introduce yourself and it makes a massive impact as you listen to it.
Going Back, showcases how the band works with each other, the Paperweight Array being an old school power trio, with Aaron on guitar, vocals and keys, Just on bass and keys and Dunc on drums and percussion.
Listening to the mighty sound they make you wouldn’t think there were only three of them!
Again there is a lot of power in the riffs and the interplay between all three of them is one of the EP’s strengths, you can tell these guys know how to play, and more importantly know how to play with each other to bring the best out of them.
Corporal Cameo is a neo gothic old school psychedelic story, with some fantastic lyrics, and some wonderfully trippy keyboard sounds, and another one of those brilliant guitar riffs.
Listening to their sound and performance on this one, and you’d think Corporal Cameo was a lost 60’s psych classic that Stuart Maconie had dug up for his Freak Zone on BBC Radio 6.
This is a fantastic introduction to where the band are coming from, and it has to be said encapsulates in the most positive way the small town atmosphere that has led to the creation of some of the most exciting music in the UK, and indeed probably throughout the world. Whilst it’s wonderful in this digital all connected age to be able to see beyond your horizons at the touch of a button, I wonder how much of an impact that will make on all the small town musicians sat in their bedrooms, using music as an escape?
Transmissions from a Distant Star is available here