Longwave - The Strangest Things

As I sit here trying to dissect Longwave's debut UK album release "The Strangest Things" the only conclusion I can come to is that here lie a band you can not simply pin them down to an easy recognizable reference point. Sure there are influences a plenty. In fact each song has at least 4 or 5 easy reference points, but to summarize the entire album down to one easy sentence is nigh on impossible. The easiest way to sum up Longwave, and I say this with no pun intended, is flicking through the radio stations and soaking up every single influence in their sponge.

It's been a long time coming for the Manhattan four piece who released their debut album "Endsongs" in the States in September 2000 before attracting the attention of Jim Merlis who has managed the US Publicity for Nirvana and The Strokes who sent them into the studio with Dave Fridmann famed for his work with the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. The results are "Strangest Things" for Hummer Recordings.  The real linchpin of the band is vocalist and songwriter Steve Schiltz who you can imagine is the sort of musical fanatic you see in High Fidelity who could simply name obscure indie tunes with just 3 notes on name that tune.

The first time I heard Longwave is was with "Pool Song" just before the Leeds / Reading festival appearances in 2002 and on that single alone it was easy to pin the band down to the sound of Strokes mixed with the vocals of Morrissey. With all the hyped American acts crossing the Atlantic it would have been easy to write them off as yet another yank band, but there was something about that song which just gnawed away your brain. Throwing you off the path totally their latest single "Everywhere You Turn" sounds like U2 at their peak and is driven by a pounding bass line which disproves the theory that white guitar bands simply don't know the power of the bass. Melancholic influences bound around from Radiohead on "The Ghosts Around You", Idlewild on "Tidal Wave" and Morrissey seemingly inhabiting every single song they record. Naturally producer Dave Fridman adds the sort of atmospheric noise and space which you'd expect from Mercury Rev and despite the fact that each song sounds like a separate band it all fits together in the jigsaw.

The fact that Longwave haven't been hyped beyond believe is to their credit as there are moments of "The Strangest Things" which simply creep upon you and go deeper than a simple pop song. Within years this band could be America's greatest living exports, but for the time being this a blinding start and a great introduction to a band who are happy to let their genius spread by word of mouth.

Alex McCann

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