Comet Gain – The Howl of the Lonely Crowd review

Created in 1992 by founding member and current lead singer David Feck, Comet Gain are long established veterans of English northern-soul and indie music.  The band’s current configuration includes seven members, and has moved far away from the original trio, and Comet Gain’s later incarnation, which included Sarah Bleach who later sang in Velocette. 

The songs on the new full length album, Howl of the Lonely Crowd, are sometimes disappointing, if only because Feck sings lead on most of them and is often off key.  I really wanted to like this record and listened to it at least ten times.  But the maudlin, overwrought lyrical mood and clichéd melodies just didn’t work for me.  This sucks because if you listen to the songs on their sweeping compilation record, Broken Record Prayers, which includes 20 songs, you’ll hear many awesome, gritty tunes.

One of the more interesting elements of Howl of the Lonely Crowd is the use of obscure references.  “The Ballad of Frankie Machine” is a reference to a Don Winslow book.  “Yoona Baines,” to the keyboardist of post-punk band The Fall, later of Blue Orchids, Una Baines.  And then there’s “Herbert Huncke Part 2.”  Huncke is a notorious junkie and beatnik poet who died in 1996.  Apparently his writings had a profound effect on Feck.

Particularly challenging to the ear is the spoken word track “A Memorial For Nobody I Know.”  I think the title says it all.  It probably would have worked better if it were A Memorial To Someone I Know.  It’s par for the course as far as the lyrics are concerned, which seem to be groping for the emotional locus that will carry the songs forward.

Comet Gain’s current seven piece line-up include some great musicians.  Jon Slade, formerly of riot grrrl band Huggy Bear, is one of the guitars.  And Woodie Taylor, ex-Morrissey drummer, plays percussion.  The band has been signed to a number of labels, including Kill Rockstars, Wiiija, and The Track and Field Organisation.  Currently they’re with Fortuna Pop! Records.  Feck is a musical explorer, and extremely prolific.  Happily, there’s no way of knowing what shape Comet Gain’s next release will take.

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