Topher Holland – “My Galvanized Friend”
Quite often a new album takes several listens before it begins to make sense. There may be several tracks that do not appear to coalesce or even one too many “fillers” to maintain sufficient attentiveness. This cannot be said of “My Galvanized Friend”, the latest release from Leeds based Topher Holland. From the very first sit through these songs illustrate the variety of influences that have been added to Holland’s musical palette. There is a distinctive 1950’s pop texture running through the tracks which occasionally sits very easily next to country tinged murder ballads. A dark sardonic humor permeates the album, which, when added to this combination of styles, creates an intriguing musical journey. If I were to say that one song, ‘Cadaver' (featuring none other than BJ Cole on pedal steel guitar), is a 1950's style pop ballad ostensibly about a man who works in a morgue and falls in love with a corpse, this may help the reader understand the mood created on “My Galvanized Friend”. ‘Terminal Velocity’, the albums opening track, features a riff and hook that will surely stay with the faithful listener long after the song has ended, whilst ‘Whiskey Soaked Ghost’ has a malevolent quality that must surely soundtrack a 50 year old black and white crime drama in some parallel universe.
Not all is doom laden however as ‘Shirley MacLaine’ has an optimistic, uplifting temperament, whilst ‘As Vince Watched’ features some deliciously intricate guitar and piano with yet another hook that snares the innocent listener. Devotees of uncooked electric blues guitar will not be disappointed with “Now That You’re Gone” and there seems to be an almost “Postcard Records/Orange Juice/post-punk funk” to ‘At The Bank Again’ which helps to illustrate how Holland can encapsulate these disparate genres comfortably into one piece of work. There is a certain naïve charm to the lyrical content on occasion which gives the album overall a personal quality that helps to overcome the underlying malevolence and makes for a more relaxing experience. As the album ends the listener comes to realise that they have been let down gently after all.
There is certainly something of the cottage industry about “My Galvanized Friend”. The album was recorded mostly at Holland’s home studio, the exception being the drums and piano which were recorded at Chair Works in Castleford, and the Hammond organ, recorded at a friends cottage in Barwick, Leeds. The band consists of Maplin on piano, Matt Parkinson on drums and Tom Riviere on upright bass. The cover art, something that can be sadly neglected nowadays, is worth mentioning for its striking illustration and enigmatic significance. The craft of imaginative songwriting and performance is alive and well, it seems, in East Leeds.