HERE’S a handy way to tell if a band classed under that slightly awkward “Americana” label actually hail from the States: if they’re singing about Cadillacs cruising down empty highways, they’re probably real Americans.
The Wynntown Marshalls
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But if, like The Wynntown Marshalls, their romantic memories involve “the back seat of a Renault car,” they’re probably home-grown – from Edinburgh, in this case.
Launching their second album The Long Haul on the weekend of T In The Park and a heatwave might seem a tough sell, but a small, loyal audience braved the sweaty basement of Broadcast to hear the five-piece power through a punchy set. While their debut CD, Westerner, stuck to the classic Americana sound – going back to The Eagles and drawing comparisons with The Jayhawks – they’ve slightly broadened their remit as that tongue-in-cheek car lyric shows, leaning more on keyboards and allowing their Scottish roots to show. On the catchy North American Soul ( “a little bit of rock and roll”), there’s even a hint of Teenage Fanclub; or rather, the West Coast American sound Scottish bands have been drawn to.
Slower, melancholy songs like Whatever It Takes bring out Keith Benzie’s appealingly fragile vocals, but his voice is lost in the mix of driving guitars and drums on the rockier numbers, which tend to chug along without a distinctive groove. But when they emphasise their poppy, local side, they create a melodic summery sound.