Celebration Summer hail from Washington DC and the name, one assumes, is a tip of the hat to Husker Du’s seminal “Celebrated Summer” and the Revolution Summer movement from their hometown. Both of which appear to have heavily influenced and helped shape their musical journey.
I was stoked to hear news of their forthcoming debut long player “Patience in Presence” and when the opportunity to review this one presented itself, I jumped at it. Even in this digital age it can still take what seems like an eternity for music to traverse the huge distance between the U.S. and Scotland, so being late to this particular party means their brilliant debut e.p. “Against the Gun” still features heavily in my current listening.
“Patience in Presence” is a rock-solid collection of eleven tracks that paint a picture of the challenges of living life through these troubled, divided and uncertain times post Trump and post pandemic. The album includes the two choicest cuts from the aforementioned debut e.p. and in this case that’s a good thing as those songs really warrant more attention. The fact that this album is being put out on A-F Records in the U.S should give the band a well-deserved opportunity to reach a much wider audience for this one, and boy do they deserve it. No disrespect to Shield who put out previous releases and are putting out the Album in Europe.
Musically, there are obvious similarities with Leatherface, Hot Water Music and Tiltwheel amongst others. The pounding rhythms, melodic bass lines, tight drumming, hooks a plenty and with subtle progression often eschewed in favour of a more angular style which is topped off with poignant lyrics that are times angst ridden, self-doubting, sensitive, full of raw emotion and politically charged and delivered with a fantastic gruff rasping vocal.
The album kicks off with the title track, the instruments announce themselves one by one and we hear the lyrics of someone feeling trapped and struggling to cope with the burden of a weight on their shoulders unsure when to act, when to stay or when to go. Next up is the more up-tempo “Disconnected” which reminds us of the new normal we lived through when the lifestyles we all took for granted were, at least temporarily, taken from us by a world-wide pandemic and how much we miss and rely on those contacts with family and friends.
Without letting up we reach my personal favourite, “Bitter End”. This song is about the challenges of trying to make a relationship work rather than giving up and the one that hooked me on first play with its infectious riffs, melodies and sing-a-long chorus, this is Celebration Summer at their absolute best.
The highlights on this album are many and another notable track is the more melancholy “The Listener” which wouldn’t be out of place with the latter-day Leatherface of The Last and The Stormy Petrel.
This is quite a long album with only one song coming in at under three minutes and the longest, “Against the Gun” clocking in at just over six minutes. It is six minutes well spent though as we hear how the singer perceives he is viewed by those in society and how that affects his own self esteem but how he won’t blink and back down from it. Is it paranoia or is it real and driven by the divisions in the world we live?
The Album closes out with an absolutely stellar cover of the Tiltwheel song “Hold my hand to make them go away”. I’m not usually a huge fan of cover versions however Celebration Summer have nailed a couple of notable covers now.
As huge Leatherface fan this style of music is always going to appeal to me so this album was always going to get a solid rating from me and this is a solid 8/10 and probably my favourite album of the year so far and I hope to see them over touring the UK on the back of this release.
1. Patience In Presence 4:05
2. Disconnected 3:20
3. Bitter End 3:17
4. Silly Me 3:33
5. The Listener 4:02
6. Fraud 2:34
7. Resin 3:00
8. Take My Love 3:17
9. Against The Gun 6:22
10. A Good Year to Forget 3:46
11. Hold My Hand to Make Them Go Away 4:25
Patience In Presence is due for release in the U.S. on A-F records later on this month with limited edition vinyl release in some lovely colours to follow mid-October. For those in Europe the vinyl on Shield Recordings has been delayed and is on pre-order for dispatch in December.
I’m off now to order my copy.