13 for ’13: Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – Poison Apple

Part 7 of a 13 song recap of my 2013 in no particular order

I’m not sure I understand Uncle Acid. Unless you’re the kind of guy who picked up one of their limited edition tape runs of their first couple of records (who are these people??) they came out of nowhere – by all accounts they hadn’t played a gig until 2013, partly due to being the brain child of one dude from Cambridge rather than an actual band. The next thing you know they’re supporting Sabbath on what is likely to be their final arena tour. All despite not really doing anything unique or interesting. The Sabbath thing makes sense as there’s more than a little of Birmingham’s finest in their sound – pretty much every riff here is one that Iommi himself would have been pleased to have come up with. There’s a bit more going on: a bit more pop, perhaps. They’re not adverse to some borderline T-Rex glam stomping at times. There’s a bit of the weirder end of the Beatles and maybe a soupcon of psych. But that’s about it. Maybe the fake occult back story did it’s work to pique the interest of a few people who might not have otherwise listened to them. But surely in 2013 we’re beyond that? I’d have thought Bon Iver was the last one to make out like a thief with that after the whole mopey Walden shtick. And yet, here we are. It’s kinda baffling.

What’s even more baffling is how damn good it sounds.

Uncle Acid himself sings like a 60s popstar more inclined to hunt the object of his affections than woo her. Which blends in better than you’d expect with the Black Purple/Deep Sabbath crunch of the guitars that back him up. Poison Apple makes the most of this juxtaposition, sounding like a hippy era pop song from a jukebox from an alternate universe where nothing is quite right. Like an episode of the Twilight Zone where the twist is that Donovan turns out to be the reincarnation of Alistair Crowley. The lyrics are all essentially variations on, “I’m a bit evil, me” followed up with some poppy “ooohs” for a chorus. But the riff is pretty majestic and the organ fills out the sound with a neat sinister edge. And, even better, the hooks are big enough to fish for whales with. It’s mostly included in this list by virtue of spending a large chunk of the year mercilessly rattling around my brain. But in the end it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, so it can’t be that special, right? Only it is. Very special indeed. Which explains their sudden rise I guess. In some ways it’s heartwarming that doing something old but doing it with love, and doing it damn well, is still enough to make waves these days.

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