Monday, December 1, 2014


The album opens with "Over under sideways down, paperback or leather-bound," ear-pleasing rhymes that slyly reference The Yardbirds and let you know this is for pop heads. Then it's a full-on treat for those who love intricate and melodic rock, with little bits of Beatles, Beach Boys, New Wave, Crowded House, Squeeze, etc., etc. Each song is filled with bright chords and colours, busy bass, textures and harmonies. But who the hell is Pugwash?

It turns out this is a compilation album, and Pugwash has been at it since 1999, releasing five discs along the way. Pugwash is Irish musician Thomas Walsh, and whoever he has sitting in at the time. That has included some pretty exceptional pop players, including Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory of XTC, American masters Jason Falkner and Eric Matthews, Brian Wilson percussionist Nelson Bragg, and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy. All were attracted to Walsh's ability to play on the same field as the masters. It's Nice To Be Nice channels Wilson crossed with McCartney, banjo plucking along with organ in a pure SMiLE moment. Two Wrongs shows tougher stuff, an ability to rock, and At The Sea is deliciously, a co-write with Partridge that could have come from his mid-period XTC days.

It turns out this is the first release for Pugwash on North American shores. It's great Walsh is finally getting heard here, it's too bad we haven't been able to enjoy him before. Now I have five albums to search out, to get caught up.

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