(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's cool? No Valentine, "Bowl of Cherries"

In praise of simplicity

When Link Wray played "Rumble", it was never about capturing a virtuoso performance. Ray Davies didn't set out to make a poetic masterpiece with "You Really Got Me". "I Want to be Sedated" didn't arise from the Ramones agonizing over an aesthetic ideal. All of these powerful songs were based on artists tapping into what they could play and how they felt. They're simple songs, but their no-frills approach makes them universal.

Like the long chain of garage and punk rockers before them, No Valentine locks into that same mindset. Cindy Pack's simple pentatonic riff on "Bowl of Cherries" is instantly familiar and gives the track a perfect serving of distorted guitar jangle. Mike Linn on drums and bassist Laura Sativa provide a pounding accompaniment that only pauses periodically to give that riff room to ring out again. Pack's lyrics are full of dead simple truisms about life sucking, but the tune never sinks into nihilistic surrender. Instead, Pack settles for detached annoyance and takes a couple of shortish solos that echo the song's small scale frustration.

It's easy enough to imagine that every teenager with a guitar has written a version of this song at one time or another and there are plenty of well-known examples on this theme. It's also true that No Valentine isn't breaking new sonic ground like Wray or the Kinks did. But it doesn't matter if you've heard this sort of song before; the punch lands because you already know it in your gut. Familiarity doesn't breed contempt, it just lowers your defenses, letting the band waltz in with swagger and just the right amount of sneer.

It's a good lead-off track for No Valentine's new EP, Can't Sleep, which is chock full of cathartic rockers. Drop by their Bandcamp site and give them a listen. Aside from "Bowl of Cherries", I also really liked the closer, "You Don't Care". 

1 comment:

  1. Hell yeah! LOVE these songs. Masterpieces! Cindy, Mike and Laura create a perfect sonic cocktails for you. Turn it up, now.