Oh, Sealand is the seventh release from Oddfellow's Casino, and the first full album since The Water Between Us in 2014. At the centre of the band is the writer, musician, performer and broadcaster, David Bramwell. The name of the band comes from a strange inheritance, the 100 year old moustache of Ambrose Oddfellow, a Victorian Freak show host, which was also the subject of Bramwell's last book (The Haunted Moustache).
The new album is full of quiet melodic power, with an eclectic mix of influences. The Ghosts Of Watling Street was written for author John Higgs, to accompany his new book, Watling Street. It features the voice of renowned comic-book writer Alan Moore, who also appears briefly in the video. It's a wonderfully meandering track reminiscent at times of the Flaming Lips, and Moore's voice adds real gravitas like a Northamptonshire Orson Wells.
Penda's Fen is a tribute to Alan Clarke's BBC film from 1974, which deals with a conflicted sense of national identity. The song is full of love and frustration for England, much like the album itself, with a 70s folk rock sound. Sealand is a fantastic anthem for the independent principality on a disused sea fort a few miles off the Suffolk coast. The Bates family have kept Sealand for 50 years, despite pirate attacks and an attempted coup. The track is full of atmosphere, eccentricity and bellicosity.
The highlight though is the seven minute epic, Down In The Water. It is perfectly put together, each element slotting together to form a whole that is wonderful to behold. The long running time flies along, and each time there threatens to be a lull, it switches it up a notch. Rachel James's vocals are a particular delight. It's one of my favourite songs of the year so far, and I've not managed to listen to it just once yet. It's a song that begs to be repeated, and on every play you'll find something new to love.
Oh Sealand is a CD full of moments of transcendent beauty, from old roads, to ocean nations. Mesmerising, magnificent and more than a little enchanting, this is well worth a purchase.
|Offa Rex: The Queen Of Hearts||Merry Hell: Come On, England! (EP)|
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