AWKWARD FAMILY PORTRAITS – Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since (Holy Smokes Records)

Everything We've DoneAwkward Family Portraits (that’s the band name) recently released Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since (that’s the album name). The style is an assortment of jump jive, rockabilly, western swing et al. You get the gist – it’s a fifties and earlier feel with plenty of fun. You need to be in the mood for this album, but if you’re having a party and want a band to make people smile and get them dancing in an old-fashioned way, Awkward Family Portraits feel like a phone number that should be on your list.

The band formed in Glasgow in 2016 and were selected by Tenement TV as one of the “ones to watch for 2018”. If you click on the link below you’ll see two of the band playing ‘Come On Down’ with its American-slanted vocalisation, two guitars picking cleanly, catchy tune to sing along with – and the echo chamber that everyone starts with: a flight of stairs, but in this case stairs with tiled walls, hard surfaces and what appears to be several flights. It’s simultaneously simple and sophisticated.

Elsewhere on the album ‘Keep On Keeping On’ will get you up dancing in the style that I can picture in anything from the Jazz Age of the 20’s to 40’s Swing to 50’s Dance Halls. Ditto ‘Do Yourself A Favour’, ‘Can’t Control Cupid’, ‘Day In The Life of a Lying Man’, the wonderfully named ‘Don’t Drink Whisky It’s Risky’ and ‘Ring, Ring Angus’. These are fun tracks with the energy of early rock and roll – Carl Perkins is perhaps the most obvious influence?

‘The Way The Wind Blows’ has the opening of a song that the writers would try and sell to Sinatra or to early Elvis when he wanted a slow number. Elsewhere, the band show their ability to capture the style and rhymes of mid-century American songbook, for example on ‘Chapati 3’

She cooks my dinner when I get home

She comments on the state of my big damned dome

She wants to hear about the birds and the bees

But I can’t just can’t seem to keep her at ease

Printed on the album cover are the phrases, “From ages 1 to 100+. Fun for all the family”. That sounds about right.

The Awkward Family Portraits’ website gives details of a few gigs coming up in the new year in Newcastle, Nottingham and Glasgow.

Mike Wistow

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‘Ring, Ring, Angus!’ – official video: