Album Reviews

Telford Mining Disaster – Rodeo Wine

(Tapewyrn) UK release date: 3 April 2006

Telford Mining Disaster - Rodeo Wine A very quick Google suggests that there was in fact never any Telford mining disaster, though the hallowed vaults of that particular internet institution have been known to be flawed, so apologies to all if there was any terrible tragedy that once afflicted the Shropshire town.

If there was, it is a strange choice of name for a band. Somehow, I cannot see it catching on and there being a clutch of bands called, for example, ‘Tiananmen Square’ or ‘The Holocausts’. Actually, maybe it would happen – in Scandinavia, anyway.

Made up or not, I like their name a lot. It pleasantly reminds one of the Bee Gees song New York Mining Disaster 1941 – fitting as these guys’ sound is not a million miles away from the brothers Gibb in the late ’60s. In their hype, they have been described as disciples of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Simon and Garfunkel.

Wow, we’ve never heard that before.

And like so many bands promoted this way, the reality is very different. To compare TMD to those giants is delusional to the point of depravity. Their jangly, harmonic, ‘quirky’ rock-pop is more reminiscent of the wannabe ’60s folk-rock acts of the nineties such as Ocean Colour Scene or The Bluetones.

They can’t sing, the production is awful, the harmonies are unimaginative, and there are no arresting melodies. With two exceptions. Meek Taikonaut Joe, an instrumental in a psych-folk vein, sets a jaunty pace and at least a mark as to what the band may be capable of another day. Also, a partial success is The Long, Wide Valley that hints at a mood of northern love affairs – it might have been written by Richard Hawley.

The rest of the album is inadequate imitation of many of rock’s monolithic figures. The Ballad of Bill Case is a strange amalgam of Tom Waits, Velvet Underground and Fairport Convention while Tuesday is a risible attempt to sound as cool as Love‘s Forever Changes.

The band’s website says “we do not accept unsolicited approaches from record labels”, a sharp-witted goad to an industry that puts young hopefuls at the mercy of big nasty corporations. This is admirable and we should applaud them. However, we should consider tempering our applause for Rodeo Wine, which doesn’t really rise above average. No doubt their lo-fi appeal will attract some, but what we have here is a sub-standard clone of The Thrills, and God knows, we could do without that.

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