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Walker Diver | White Knuckle Ride (Fount Music)
This foursome are making a lot of waves in their native Holland. This debut album has been variously described as 'smashing' 'high-quality' and 'congenial old-fashioned' (eh?) by our pals the Zuider Zee. Walker Diver have also been described (by Planet Internet) as a 'Dutch REM.' I wouldn't go as far as that, but the debut album from Stefan t'Hooft; Mathijs Peeters, Michael van der Westen and Jelmer de Haas has lots going for it, provided you like workmanlike Americana with a whiff of Dutch individuality about it. Whether Walker Diver will be able to fulfil the kind of promise their homeland press predicts remains to be seen. The REM comparison isn't that wide of the mark, especially if you hear Greener Grass, which could have been lifted wholesale from 'Murmur'. Trouble with comparisons like that is that for as much as vocalist t'Hooft sounds like Michael Stipe on Greener Grass, he doesn't on other tracks. All in all, 'White Knuckle Ride' is hardly that; the songs are polite, well mannered and immaculately played - but raise no more than an occasional eyebrow. Indeed, a couple of clunkers midway through does the lads no favours at all. By the time track six, Drifter, comes along - a total copy of an Eagles songs - we're heading for the eject button. That's not to say that 'White Knuckle Drive' is bad; it's just, well, ordinary. But they do a mean REM impersonation. Maybe that's the future.

John Stacey
November-December 2004

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