American Wrestlers are a new lo-fi project by 20-year-plus indie veteran and proud Scot, Gary McClure. McClure's journey has seen him move from his home in Scotland to Manchester and finally to Missouri where American Wrestlers took shape. Recorded on an 8-track and using cheap and basic instruments, McClure writes blissfully melodic indie-pop about simple pleasures.
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Last week I bemoaned the fact that the War on Drugs had made it perfectly acceptable to try to emulate Christopher Cross and the ‘80s FM radio ‘greats’. This album is another example of how heartland rock is taking back the airwaves. Hey, Bruce Hornsby - its ok to come back now.
The album is littered with heartfelt melodies and monstrous production touches. Take the guitar solo on ‘There’s No one Crying Over Me Either’. No, please take it. Otherwise the track is a pleasant piano lament worthy of the great Hornsby himself. Marc Cohn will be happy that someone in the underground has finally, finally been influenced by his ‘Walking in Memphis’ tearjerker. The ‘catch’ is that this is all done in a faintly lo-fi style with hissy production and the same rudimentary drum machine setting on each track. Ah… that drum machine. It really is a mystery why they’ve gone all out with soft rock production techniques and then utilised the same rhythm throughout. Maybe it got stuck in the ‘80’s along with the rest of the album.
You can’t fault the melodies though, ‘Holy’ sounds like a perfect allegiance between Don Henley, Mark Knopfler and Sparklehorse. It goes on for as long as Richard Marx’s hair but has that lost plaintive West Coast vibe in abundance. What saves the album from sounding like a collection of Kenny Loggins demos are the strength of the songs which are varied but always melodically accessible. They move from yacht rock to indie-pop nicely on ‘The Rest of You’ which sounds like early Pains of Being Pure At Heart and is probably the best indie-pop song I’ve heard all year.
It may at times sound like Journey but this is indeed a journey through the back passages of melodic guitar music. What remains true are the stellar songwriting and that fucking drum machine tapping away.
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