Little Green Cars ‘Absolute Zero’


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#876 in the Series) is Little Green Cars, Absolute Zero (Glassnote Records)

Travelling the back roads of the “Mumfordization” highway, on a road already well navigated by Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, and Dawes, Dublin’s own Little Green Cars with their sparkling debut album, Absolute Zero, are gassed up, ready to form their own trail, and are headed for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The blueprint for this band of feisty twenty-something’s consists of fronting duo (think Buckingham-Nicks) Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke, Dylan Lynch (Drums), Donagh Seaver O’Leary (Bass), and Adam O’Regan (Guitar, Piano), brilliant musicians all, where all five pieces seem to meld together in a finish each other’s sentence sort of way. The harmonies are apple skin tight in some places, and majestically soaring in others, with a tone and clarity that would make a Wilson brother jealous. As stable mates with Mumford & Sons on Glassnote Records, a lot of production value has been extended to this record, with the producer, Markus Dravs, who previously worked with Arcade Fire as well as Mumford & Sons, handling the production duties here.

Genre-splitting, sharing influences of Americana, Folk, Pop, and Laurel Canyon Cosmic Cowboy, along with a palate cleansing sorbet of Surfs Up era Beach Boys, the sound is pure California with a road trip to Austin thrown in for good measure, with just enough Brooklyn attitude added to the mix to keep things fresh, up-to-date, and vibrant. Much like a super model that also happens to have brains, there is much to appreciate beyond the surface from this album with repeated listens. My preferred auditory method here was to give it a layered listen, with the first layer taking in the album experience as a whole, the second focusing on the playing and the instruments, the third layer was for a critical listen to the vocals and the harmonies, and finally a study of the lyrics. It was here at this fourth layer where I was most impressed, and is where all of the pieces came together to form one eargasmic whole.

The album opens with “Harper Lee,” a songlittlegreen named after the “To Kill a Mockingbird” author, and treats us immediately to Stevie Appleby’s warm vocal style before the rest of the band kicks in with their instruments and vocals. For me, this is my favorite pound for pound song on the album, and is a splendid way to introduce the record, complete with a fine mid-song guitar interlude. This Little Green Car is already hitting on all cylinders, and they have barely left the parking lot.

“My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me,” is simply a stunner, and should be their “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Here, we are treated to the first Faye O’Rourke lead vocal.  Sharing a passing resemblance to an early day Chrissie Hynde, O’Rourke seems to vocally float between Patti Smith when she is at her most emotional, and Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. When the full band jumps in, you have a song that could have been on Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk album. It was on this song, I also caught a bit of Thin Lizzy. Granted it may have been the Bushmills talking, but I could swear I heard an Irish Spring scent of the classic Thin Lizzy “Cowboy Song.”

Stevie Appleby, with the timbre of his voice, seems to channel his inner Neil Young on several songs on this album, and in particular on “The Consequences of Not Sleeping.” The song has a Crosby Stills Nash and Young “Deja Vu” vibe to it in parts, and a Simon and Garfunkel “Homeward Bound” flavoring in others. Stunning in its simplicity, the bands versatility is on full display here.

”The John Wayne,” the first single, can easily be imagined as the center-piece of their live shows.  A slow burner, the song describes what seems to be somewhat of a one sided relationship.

lgcars“You know it’s your neglect/Is the reason I’m so obsessed with you./And when I asked you your name/You said, John Wayne, and I guess that’s true.”

A mature sentiment for a band that is wise and talented beyond their years.

Overall, this is a wildly talented band that has produced one of the best albums of the year, and one of the best debut albums in several years. The partnership with their manager, Daniel Ryan, formerly of the Thrills, should also greatly benefit the band.  The Thrills own debut album, So Much For the City, released in 2009, was a record that was critically acclaimed but criminally ignored by the record buying public.  Somewhat ahead of its time, this was one of the first albums to combine Americana Folk, with a California-Centric vibe that seems to be all the musical rage today. It is one heck of a satisfying album in its own right.  Playing it forward, The Little Green Cars seem to share some DNA with their older brothers, The Thrills, and that is a very good thing.

With solid record company backing, their road-dog touring blueprint for success, and above all immense talent, The Little Green Cars are tuned up quite nicely, and should certainly be headed to main stream success in short order.

Let’s just hope that unlike Harper Lee the author, their best work is yet to come.

– Walt Falconer, Houston Texas, USAPlease-visit-and-LIKE-our-facebook-page

Track Listing

  1. Harper Leelittle-green-cars-7
  2. Angel Owl
  3. My Love Took Me Down to The River to Silence Me
  4. The Consequences of Not Sleeping
  5. Big Red Dragon
  6. Red and Blue
  7. The Kitchen Floor
  8. The John Wayne
  9. Please
  10. Them
  11. Goodbye Blue Monday

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