A Scottish band who claim they play, “rootsy pop for grownups,” davesnewbike are the vehicle for Tom Houston’s song writing with his literate words propped up by the guitar of Kris Jozatis (The Folk Devils) along with bass and percussion from Sam Wilson and Simon Jaquet respectively, both of them having a folk background. The Tin Can And The Flood is one of those albums that draws the listener in over repeated plays, there are no immediate hooks or singalong choruses, however there is an attractive mix of European cool and street level Scots poesy allied to some driving rhythms. One gets whiffs of Brel and Cohen occasionally along with a baser note of Scottishness reminiscent of Arab Strap.
The opening title song is a slow tango which is darkly romantic with big boned guitar flourishes and a siren wail and it recalls Tav Falco’s fascination with a Harry Lime themed Europe. Candy Floss has a similar approach although here it’s more waltz like with the lyrics adding a slight fairground air despite their somewhat voyeuristic element. Hanging On Like Salt directly addresses Cohen, alluding to Suzanne in the opening words before moving in a more Brel like direction while No. 26 throbs with incipient drama as Houston inhabits a morose bus traveller railing against the other half and their “soft French cheese and wind frickin’farms.” One gets the sense here that, with its epic reach and dramatic dynamics, No. 26 is a live highlight.
In a jauntier mood, The Cobbler finds Houston in impish form boasting, albeit with a thinly veiled sense of menace, as the band deliver a skittish update on rockabilly with Jozatis’ guitar thrilling on his solo. In My Face is a new wave like romp which at times reminds one of Rockpile although surely neither Dave Edmunds nor nick Lowe would have sung repeatedly, “pishing with rain.” Nevertheless it’s a cracking number that invites one to dance along to it and has some of the best lines regarding a doctor’s diagnosis we’ve heard in some time.
Elsewhere the band don’t always hit the target. Lady Macbeth And Me attempts to marry Houston’s narrative with a bustling and too busy folk rock arrangement that has too little folk and too much rock while Black Box is marred by its reggae beat. However there is the very nice Stone, a song that sits somewhat out with the rest of the album in terms of style, but, with its dappled psychedelic sheen and Byrds guitar licks, serves well as a note of missed opportunity for anyone who has wished they were at Woodstock or the heyday of hippie music.