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Friday 15 July 2022

Phil Yates & the Affiliates - A Thin Thread


I was looking through which albums that I'd like to review for the rest of the week and was a bit bemused. There are plenty that deserve to be reviewed, but a lot are, let's say, laidback and I fancied something with a little oomph. To be honest, lots were just too nice.

Thankfully, the July 15th release schedule has offered three albums that fit the current mood and I'll tell you about them over coming days as well as choosing some of the ones I looked over midweek. The first is something that I've wanted to tell you about for a while.

It has been four years since Party Music and for his fourth album, Phil Yates gathers a new Chicago line up of The Affiliates and it really shows. Party Music was all great UK New Wave, but A Thin Thread is far far more, dare I say a grown up album.

That isn't to denigrate what has gone before, because all of it is ace, just very different to this. This album is like a collection of influences that just revels in its variety. As melodic and beautifully produced as ever, but there seems an edge, an itch to show there is more to live than Joe Jackson and Graham Parker.

Yates can do Power Pop in his sleep, but here when he ventures into the genre there is much more than three chords and a big chorus. On Secret Decoder Ring, it is a bit like Tom Petty fronting Extra Arms, catchy as hell, but down and dirty too. 

I Can't Wait is near to what has gone before with its Guitar Jangle Pop, but the riff is more prominent and the vocal more direct. It is a great opener, but not an indicator of what's to come. Gun=Gun has a real country twang and The New York is New York sleeze with a Glam Rock interlude.

Ode To A Cafe Waitress has an undercurrent of Film Noire, a little 70s, certainly darker than the songs that accompany it. Yet, The Door is great Lennon Pop. Caraway Master has a wonderful hypnotic theme with a vocal drawl and then bursts into a Brass arrangement.

But the song that grabs me most is Trash Carrots, it edges on Psych with its distorted vocal and carries a threat that you can't quite explain. Phil Yates is one of the nicest guys that you could meet. A wicked sense of humour, hilarious, but not quite as funny as me of course.

This line up of The Affiliates is a bit like comparing apples to pears, but more than anything A Thin Thread feels and sounds like a band album. Inventive with great variety, but edgier, People will say about many new releases that it is the subject's best album. This truly is. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to the album here and buy it as a download, on CD or as a Vinyl LP.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Don! I hope it does not take me another four years to make the next record.