It’s strange to consider a band with a musical style as timeless and A Classic Education a breath of fresh air, but in many ways they are. In an age of one too many reverb merchants hiding behind fuzz and effects pedals, a debut album that takes a back to basics approach and relies on good old fashioned song writing rather than genre trends is certainly refreshing. Call It Blazing is released next month on Lefse Records and is an assured debut for a band who can only get better.
“Baby It’s Fine” immediately sucks you into a world of leather, grease, Pavement, Rock n Roll, Lou Reed, open highways, Galaxie 500 and dingy American diners, and the rest of the album follows suit. It is safe to say however, that this world proves to be the over romanticised anachronistic vision of the Italian based band, and so, having written the songs in their hometown Bologna, doesn’t really exist. However, this only adds to the appeal, adding a certain cinematic quality to the tracks. Canadian born singer Jonathan Clancy acknowledges a further influence in the photography of Danny Lyon, whose work “The Bikeriders” prompted the birth of the album: “(I) immersed myself in that black and white universe, those roads, sweat dripping from my palms and stories clogging my mind. I felt at ease, lost in that forgotten world of abandonment, and songs came in a matter of seconds”. Each song plays like the soundtrack to an unrealized art house film, encapsulating the introverted cogitations of the imaginary protagonist (played out vicariously by Clancy): Be it the escapism and search for new beginnings in “Gone To Sea”, the meandering melancholy of “Terrible Day” or the resignation of “Place a Bet On You” (“You think it’s alright but it’s not, I’m tangled up to tight to know”), each song beckons you in to an absorbing melodrama.
Produced by Jarvis Taveniere (Woods, Real Estate and Ganglians) there is a timeless quality to this record as production is kept to a minimum and doesn’t detract from the instrumentation, achieving a crisp, tight sound that never slips into self indulgence. Many of the parts were recorded in a kitchen with wooden floorboards and while this cultivates a rawness in their sound, the band resist the temptation to slip into distortion and echo, and so should (emphasis on should) avoid being labelled Lo-Fi. Their sound is measured and self contained, and while they don’t yet equal the inexplicably under rated Lower Dens, they are very much in the same mould.
A Classic Education lay their songs bare before you and rely on their song writing ability rather than attaching themselves to any fashionable pseudo-movement. Call It Blazing is comprised of twelve songs, or stories, that take you on a cinematic journey, and although it is one that sounds a little familiar it is an assured debut that maybe, a few albums down the line, will be considered the early formations of something much bigger.