Album of the Week: Le Reno Amps – Appetite
Le Reno Amps have been kicking about for a while now and this is their third album.
If you’re not already acquainted with them, then now is most definitely the time to make friends, not that you’ll get much choice when you sling on Appetite and opener This One’s Not Waiting and its big brash chorus grab you and shake your hand till it’s ready to fall off.
Its clattering drums and garage-y guitar set something of a template for what follows but it’s far from same-y.
In fact, it sounds remarkable southern fried for two guys (Scott Maple and Al Nero, augmented by numerous guest musicians) who are quite clearly from the north of Scotland. There’s no danger that someone actually from Reno could come out with some of the heuchtar Teuchtar gibberish below.
Anyway, back to the music. There’s a little light Tijuana brass on Bad Blood, home of another rousing chorus, while Never Be Alone’s Gothic chanting and spookified organ will have you checking the locks and various nooks and crannies for hidden villains before you hit the hay.
Sinners outfoxes the Fleets – gentle piano, strumming and harmonies – just without the sense of over-familiarity that’s plagued recent listens of Robin Pecknold and co. Plus, some mean guitar and cymbal crashes make it a lot less wussy too.
If there’s a single to track to pick out above all others, it’s Cottonmouth Rock. There’s real bite on this one, and while highlighting may feel like undermining the rest of Appetite, it’s a stunning track on a very strong album.
In truth, there’s a bit of a lull thereafter, but final brace Stuck in Your Throat (pure pop rock, reigning in the blues-punk a bit) and Faded Star (woozy country grunge, reminiscent of Wye Oak, big favourites round these parts) will jolt you out of any sense of drift.
Le Reno Amps have crafted a record that’s both mature and fun, packed with hooks and slashing guitar. In short, you should go buy it, ok?
I spoke to the band last week…
So, your third album – a lot of ‘wee’ Scottish bands are fizzling out after one, if they even make it that far. To what would you credit your staying power?
Scott Maple: We continually set low goals and fail to achieve them. Quite honestly, I think it’s because we’ve never been successful enough to owe enough money to anyone to make it impossible for us to carry on as a unit.
Plus we love each other.
Al Nero: Love/Hate.
This feels like a very ‘American’ album to me in its blues/country/grunge feel. Is that something you’d agree with? A deliberate move?
Scott: Well, probably 80 – 90% of the stuff that influenced us to pick up guitars and write songs is American, and we’d be lying to ourselves if we tried to pretend that it wouldn’t have had any affect on us. The original Le Reno Amps blueprint was to write acoustic songs with ‘country’ harmonies, and that’s really an American sound. So I should be clear, it’s an emulation of an (mainly) American influence, but not an attempt to sound American. We just want to sound like Le Reno Amps. It’s quite common now to sing in a thick Scottish accent, and I like the sound of it but when people say ‘Scottish’ they generally mean a ‘South of Perth’ accent. I remember we were recording a B-Side for Tear it Open – our previous record – in my house and I sang a few lines that sounded really rich Fife – (think King Creosote) – I really liked it but it was as fake as me singing in an American accent or a ‘Blur’ style mockney. So we scrubbed it out and started again. Where we come from it’s a North East accent, and it’s affa teuchtery*. Listen to Robbie Shepherd present ‘Take the Floor’ on Radio Scotland on a Sunday and THAT is what we would sound like if we didn’t try to sing clearly and talk proper like ken?
Al: Fit the heck are ye haverin’ aboot you big galoot, yer spickin’ a right load o’ shite ken, michty**.
Quite a roll call of guests on the album! How did you get involved with them all?
Al: They just kept calling and calling…
Scott: All different ways really – how much detail do you want?
Al: Jason from Cuddly Shark has been drumming with us for years, he’s from Scott’s home town (Elgin) and so we’re all old pals and the like. Scott had a big hand in recording the Cuddly Shark album and we put it out through our label, Armellodie, so y’know Jase is now our whipping boy.
Scott: Greg Barnes who played keys on the album played on ‘So For Your Thrills…’ – what you might call our first album – and he immediately blew us away so we’ve called him back every time. One day we WILL do a gig with him, but he’s a very busy man because everyone wants a piece of the Barnes and we have enough trouble getting four people together in a room to practise or gig.
Al: Lindsey Scott played some cello on this record, she’s just an all round good gal and has served the Amps tirelessly on bass duties for the last few years, and then she went to Africa to find herself.
Scott: At which point Mandy from Super Adventure Club - another band on the Armellodie books – said she’d do it for shits and giggles. She was half right.
Al: Who are we forgetting… ah Master Lamb.
Scott: Ah yeah, we met Johnny (aka Thirty Pounds of Bone) because he was playing bass with ‘Actress Hands’ when we toured together. Then we toured with him in his ‘Bone guise, then his CMRX guise. Basically we have huge crushes on him and when he was passing Glasgow on his way up North, we pretended we needed Trumpet on some songs and asked him to blow his magical fairy dust on them. Really we just wanted to see his cheeky little face.
Will you be taking Appetite out on the road?
Scott: We’re definitely playing all around Scotland to promote the record, we’re scoping England as I write this but we basically need to make sure we can afford to do it, it’s an increasingly expensive game to be speculating in.
*From the north, what, what.
**Nope, no idea. And I shared uni digs wi three quines fae near Elgin.
Appetite is available through Armellodie Records on April 18. Have a blast of Cottonmouth Rock below.