Listen to 405 Radio
The Voluntary Butler Scheme - The Grandad Galaxy

The Voluntary Butler Scheme - The Grandad Galaxy

by , 08 December 2011

The Voluntary Butler Scheme is not a government sponsored enterprise to get the unemployed back to work serving cucumber sandwiches and weak tea to the prime ministers' Bullingdon Club alumni. It's really Rob Jones, a one man band from Stourbridge in the UK. Not the sort of one man band you find in the subway with a drum, harmonica, guitar and dog on a string but the sort that specialises in witty, whimsically lo-fi indie that harks back to the best pop of the late 1960s and sounds like Jim Noir being pebbledashed with bits of Babybird (Stephen Jones no relation!), John Lennon, Fatboy Slim and the Avalanches.

New album, The Grandad Galaxy is much more self assured and accomplished than his good, but overly twee debut At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea. It's an album that lives in a parallel universe where Sgt Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club is on constant rotation, everyone looks like a brightly coloured cartoon and the roads are paved with M&Ms. In these difficult times when turning on the TV should come with a stress warning, it's great to be able to indulge in some escapist nonsense for almost an hour.

Opening an album with an instrumental is brave. Opening an album with 'Hiring A Car', an instrumental quirkier than Mr Magorium's eccentric brother with what sounds like a glockenspiel being thrown out of a window, is even braver. It's a sign of Rob's new found musical maturity that he follows such an odd start with 'Shake Me By The Shoulders' a relatively traditional rocker that wouldn't sound out of place on a John Lennon retrospective. To then ratchet the quirk factor up as far as it's legally possible to go with 'Sky Shed', modern pop's equivalent of The White Album's 'Revolution Number 9', betrays a confidence bordering on cockiness. The Beatles relegated their strangest track to the fourth side of a double album, Rob sends his out to bat at number three.

'Do The Hand Jive' sounds like Fatboy Slim if he'd dedicated his life to weird pop rather than dance music. It's stranger than a mime artist on drugs and just as compelling. 'Satisfactory Substitute' is the best musical collage since The Avalanches' 'Frontier Psychiatrist'. With a generous 15 tracks it would be difficult to maintain such a high quality throughout the album and there are a couple of tracks that fall a little short. 'Umbrella Fight' is a jolly but ultimately throw away instrumental and while 'Manual' starts well it drags on and is the sort of track that Jim Noir would probably leave on the cutting room floor. But these are no more than minor quibbles that should not detract from a great album.

It's quite a feat to deliver a 15 track album of whimsy, quirkiness and offbeat humour without ever getting annoying or even slightly irritating yet The Voluntary Butler Scheme pull it off with aplomb. The Grandad Galaxy is a splash of colour in a dreary world, it's fun without being funny, it's an album that should be available on prescription for the clinically depressed, it really is better than drugs.

Rating: 7/10

Purchase and listen

Related Reviews

  • The Log.Os – λόγος

    The Log.Os – λόγος

    by The 405

    he Log.Os is a new outfit hailing from Los Angeles consisting of producer Ken Barrientos, singers Iman Omari and Nikko Gray and a plethora of guest musicians that feature throughout the album. These guys seem to be taking that very popular tact at the minute of wielding a tremendous amount of mystique about them; the only real source of information on them is their extremely sparse website consisting of three images and countless links to a free download of this album on Mediafire. [read more]

  • Manic Street Preachers - National Treasures - The Complete Singles

    Manic Street Preachers - National Treasures - The Complete Singles

    by Tom Jenkins

    What an oddity the Manic Street Preachers must’ve seemed when they emerged kicking and screaming and furtively evolved in the early 1990s. [read more]

  • Phenomenal Handclap Band - Form and Control

    Phenomenal Handclap Band - Form and Control

    by Tom Baker

    Dear Trading Standards, I would like to complain about the false advertising perpetrated by the name of the American indie ensemble <strong>Phenomenal Handclap Band</strong>. Not about the use of the word "phenomenal", as I know this is entirely subjective; my problem is that I was expecting at least some jaunty, fun-time hand-claps somewhere amongst the eleven tracks on their most recent album. And yet there are none. Do I have a case? [read more]

  • Wax Idols – No Future

    Wax Idols – No Future

    by Paul Kerr

    If you're a punk inspired band you have to be either very confident in your music or a little stupid to name an album after one of the best lines from the most incendiary single of all time, the one that almost single-handedly launched the punk movement. [read more]

Comments

Follow Us

Recommended Posts

Popular Posts

Mailing List

Sign up to our weekly mailing list.