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The Stands | All Years Leaving (Echo)
There are times when you just want to slam a CD in the player, put your feet up and wallow in a heady dose of nostalgia. And that's what you get with The Stands - twelve tracks of unabashed backwards-looking rock, some slightly countryish, some slightly psychedelic - a homage to a golden era. There's not a sample here; there's no noodling electronica, no post-rock shenanigans. The Stands produce 'classic rock' - whatever that is - with songs that have a verse-chorus-verse-solo-verse-end. 'All Years Leaving' is like listening to an iPod collection of the best of British and American rock over the past forty years. There is one, fairly big, BUT, however. After a while, playing Spot The Reference gets a bit irritating - after all, the originals are always better. For example, When This River Rolls Over You, fourth track in, is Dylan via The Byrds via The Coral via The Stands. Get what I mean? Even the wheezy harmonica is an albeit cleverly cloned version of Uncle Bob. So, by the time you finish the album you're desperate for The Stands to start being original. For, no matter how clever they are, we are dealing with smoke and mirrors here. And, finally, vocalist Howie Payne's nasal, sub-Lennon whine really starts to irritate. 'All Years Leaving' is an interesting album and is a must for rockers who admire Ocean Colour Scene or would prefer a less far-out version of The Coral.

John Stacey
March-April 2004