Paul Jacobs is the drummer in Canadian band Pottery, a Talking Heads inspired indie pop band who have released one album so far called Welcome to Bobby’s Motel in 2020. However he has many strings to his bow and seems to be a bit of a renaissance man if you read through his press release – musician, painter, stage hand, animator and producer are amongst the talents listed, and he has been playing live, both with the aforementioned Pottery, and with his own six piece band. This album was recorded in his own home studio with songs he wrote, played and produced. He even did the artwork. Clever fellow.
10 seconds into the first song “Christopher Robbins” and I am hooked by what sounds remarkably like a mellotron flute sound. Now I’m a sucker for that sound – it’s evocative of a kind of lysergic tinged nostalgia as expressed in The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and is all over theme tunes from long lost children’s TV shows, bringing with it feelings of a hazy summer dusty attic creepy melting laziness. Couple that with hi-hat offbeats and leslie guitar sounds and you’re on to a winner in my book. That mello flute is the first thing you hear at the beginning of “Day To Day”, another sharp, yet lazy summer vibe of bilious bees and hazy regret. I can’t help thinking “Susan’s House” by The Eels…or is that just me.
Vocally we’re in Stephen Malkmus territory…not much in the way of range but a kind of cool drawl which blends perfectly with the DIY indie thing. Studio production saves the day when it comes to the more mundane songs like “Half Rich Loner” and “Most Delicious Drink”, with echo and psychedelic Beach Boys harmonies, and the aforementioned mellotron of course. However they are perhaps a little too indie for my liking. I prefer my music a little more inventive, weirder or more poppy. More like “Cherry”, which is like The Archies as done by The Fall with The Residents on backing vocals (or something). It’s repetitive and a little sick with itself. It’s a drunken belch of a song. “Everything’s Fine” is Malkmus doing The Kinks, “Dancing With The Devil” with its voice over delivery kind of reminds me a bit of Stan Ridgway I’m afraid and “Hello Sunshine” is messy, albeit short.
Where the album excels is in its more original sounding songs like the opener and “Cherry”, along with “Underneath The Roses” which somehow manages to be both beautiful but with an undercurrent of menace that I can’t explain, “Glory Days, Yesterday” which has an epic rock flag waving delivery underpinned by a Psychedelic Furs drawl, “Kathy’s Bible” with its repeating mellotron and extremely flat almost spoken delivery on top of a Broken Social Scene style drum beat, the motorik “Your Last Words” where again repetition saves the day giving it a “Waiting For The Man” vibe, and “The Boys Are Back” flatness overlapping a train rhythm like early Kevin Ayers. This is where the magic lies. It is a very colourful album on the surface, but scratch away and you will reveal layers of dirt and grime enriched with nutrients and fossils with a very unique nature…and that I think is the heart of the man. It’s not quite in the rich mind expanding realms of the best neo psychedelia that there is going on at the moment but I would say watch this space…and this is as good a place as any to start mining that rich vein.
Review by Andrew Wood