Home of the Strange – Damn Fine Coffee (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I’m easily won over with a good pun, so the fact that I find myself putting pen to paper on behalf of a track from an album with the glorious title of For Richmond or Poorer has me warming to it even be for the virtual needle drops on the non-existent record. (Curse this modern age, it plays havoc with your stock turns of phrase.) But if the pun eased my way in, I shouldn’t have worried, Damn Fine Coffee make damn fine music!

Home of The Strange is one of those songs which you can’t quite put your finger on, not that genres are a thing any more but if you were given to such demarcations and labels you would have a tough time placing the track. Good! It sort of borrows from the pop that issued forth in the post-punk years, a liberated and edgy blend of pop and rock, not new sounds as such but heady and fresh combinations, a sound which would eventually go on to change it’s name to Indie and become all the rage with the cool kids.

The lyrics are suitably vague yet seem wonderfully poignant, notions of getting stuck in a rut and watching all the vitality and lust for life ebb from your soul…we have all been there, and probably all quite recently too. And musically what might at first seem to be a bustling and busy, perhaps even chaotic, tsunami of sonics and musical threads, on subsequent listening reveals itself to be a collection of cleverly wrought textures. Sometimes they are bunched together to create the required weight (note to rock bands: impact and power don’t come from merely turning the volume up on everything,) sometimes allowing more room for the various instruments to really go to town and have their limelight moment.

Underpinned by often thunderous piano and energetic drums, the song forms some interesting structural shapes thanks to its ever changing nature; staccato deliveries, percussive bursts of energy, subdued breakdowns and sky-scraping sonics, all feeding off each other to make the highs heightened and the lows lulling.

Jonn Buzby, the man at the helm here, has a long history of steering his musical ship through some fascinating musical waters, though this is the first time he has blipped on my radar and already my life seems slightly poorer for his music not being in it up until now. Thankfully, for all my earlier cursing of the modern world, it is a wonderfully connected place and so checking out his previous two Damn Fine albums, his work with Land of Chocolate and all manner of other electric music, is a piece of cake. I shall do so immediately…and so should you.

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