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Withered Hand: New Gods

Like the Vaselines, Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits and more before him, Edinburgh’s Dan Willson draws musical inspiration from climes far sunnier than the misty lochs and mountainous Highlands of his native Scotland: the jangly folk-pop songs on New Gods, his second album under the Withered Hand alias, are so indebted to classic west coast American rock – all chiming Byrds guitars and high Beach Boys harmonies – that one suspects Willson carries photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood sign in his wallet the way most people carry pictures of their kids. Lyrically, however, it’s a distinctly British record, dealing with love, death, infidelity, life on the road and other familiar themes with the kind of self-deprecating, downbeat humour that seems to bloom exclusively on this rain-soaked little island. Much has been made of the fact that Willson arrived at music later in life than most (he was 30 when he started writing what would become his debut LP Good News), and his world-weary but ultimately good-natured troubadour persona – a blend of clever, comical and caustic pitched somewhere between Elvis Costello and Jarvis Cocker – certainly benefits from a few extra years of bitter experience. There’s a sense of “everything in moderation” about Willson’s writing, whether he’s describing being on a foreign tour as a kind of working holiday rather than three months of debauchery/ hell (delete as applicable) or taking a long, hard look in the mirror and deciding that, yes, he may be a bit of a shit but there are plenty worse than him, and as such for every dry jibe about “falling asleep watching a buzz band” there’s a heart-felt moment of genuinely soul-stirring poetry (“I counted lucky stars above a field in Switzerland/ New gods for this unholy man“) to balance the scales. A bittersweet and delightfully moreish treat, New Gods is out now in the UK via Fortuna POP! and March 25 via Slumberland in the US; listen to “Black Tambourine” and “Horseshoe” below.
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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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