To say I was rather happy when three members of Miss Black America’s debut album lineup started making music together again last year is an understatement. I was even happier when I heard the music and found it pretty much reflected the things that prompted my expectation while moving on sensibly. Ten City Nation are a Bury St Edmunds/London based three-piece. Their self-titled debut is a perfect mixture of aggression, serenity and melody to tread the mid-20s path with.
It’s an album that contains all the energy that fans of their prior work heralded, without the angst or rhetoric which, while always a sideline to intent in my eyes, was a bit of a double-edged sword for Miss Black America. Ten City Nation collects a suite of great rock n roll songs, crossing a spectrum from explosive and fairly proficient garage abandon to bank balance envelope indie. It’s heavy in a similar manner to the Catheters’ brilliant Static Delusions and Stone Still Days, or Jarcrew’s self-titled effort. Like the aforementioned, there’s uniqueness to the sound here that distinguishes the potency. Hitherto disconnected bits of the 1960s, 1980s and 1990s’ sound refreshed by the fact that bands who can make this particular type of sound aren’t commonplace.
“Positive Sickness” seems well over the idea of a call to arms, but it resonates with an incredibly focused aggression that makes me take notice. It has the world gone wronged feel of Lift to Experience played with the type of satirical disaffection that Mark E Smith allegedly got from the Monks. A protagonist is learning “to trust nobody, giving my vote to the S club Party.” Meanwhile, the infectious “TDK 90” could be clear radio fodder if trends facilitate. It harks back to U2 at the time when you could hear the Ian Curtis influence. There’s something reminiscent of Mission of Burma’s Signals Calls and Marches in there as well. It’s a lot more exciting than faux gloominess and frayed stage school baritone. The chorus exclaims “you were born with my future in your mouth.”
“She Chokes On Cigarettes” is a very anglicised distillation of Josh Homme’s aloofness. For whatever reason it brings to mind Lindsay Anderson’s brilliant 1968 film If… “First Man on the Sun” echoes Marion and evokes a very pretty desolation, repetitively disconcerting like Massive Attack’s “Angel” as it builds before standstill. “Everyone’s a Tourist” takes the disconnection of the Cure in bleak power ballad mode and hurtles full speed at Future of the Left level. “Exhibition Time Again” deserves a Stooges comparison for the wit of level-headed relationship questioning on display and the fact it’s a few beats ahead of standard garage rock. The vocal clarity and slightly Britpop guitar work makes it superb, and brings to mind Black Box Recorder, The Bends and New Year’s Day with no direct connection. This is a brilliant album, regardless of the lack of ancillary backdrop. Ten City Nation propels itself with an eclectic relentlessness.
The Catheters – Static Delusions and Stone Still Days
The Monks – Black Monk Time
Jarcrew – Jarcrew
Available free to download here
Limited physical release coming soon from Repeat Fanzine