Some record labels just nail it every single time. It’s obviously rare, because scouting for the very best new music is one thing, but then actually signing them can require further fortune, as you compete with so many others, but every now and again a record label appears and it delivers band after band of awesomeness. Double Denim is one such label. They can proudly mention current hype magnets, such as Outfit and Zulu Winter, when discussing their roster, having already released the likes of Blackbird Blackbird, Body Language and Stay +. All eyes are therefore on the label and once again they’ve delivered, with the release for the new artist, Amateur Best, which is all set to be the next arrival from their stable. It’s yet another wonderful thoroughbred that’s surely all set for winning ways.
Amateur Best is something of a weird and wonderful idea, with a themed concept running through it’s work. Its tracks are designed to tell the story of a fictional London character, James Best, a part-time DJ, “terrible alcoholic and lifelong amateur“. His story is also further developed in an accompanying comic book, which is due to be included with the vinyl version of the singles as they’re released. It’s something of a high concept, which sounds mostly like pointless fluff, but is also undeniably charming. The imagination behind the project belongs to Joe Flory, once behind the electro pop outfit, Primary One, but he’s now moved his mind on to this entirely unrelated idea. And it really does have the feel of an idea, almost as if it’s not meant to be heard anywhere other than inside Flory’s head. He’s also behind the accompanying illustrations, proving that he’s clearly letting his individual creativity pour out before us in an entirely new direction.
A debut single was released on February 13th and both tunes are an absolute joy to the ears. The A-side is Be Happy, which paints a cartoon picture with music, over a Bossa Nova beat. It has a kind of peacefulness at it’s core, like the moment of detached bliss you gain from the peak of a strong illegal drug. It has a glossed-over look to it’s eyes, as he sings “if it never get’s better, then what do I do“. It’s part Murph & The Magic Tones‘ club style and part Washed Out‘s lo-fi waves . Imagine if you will, Ernest Greene finishing his set and stating “Don’t you go a changin’” as he winks at the crowd. The B-side, The Wave, sets out at a walking pace, as if the character is truly set in his environment – this is a song that accompanies the character as he guides you through the cityscape he cares nothing for. It’s clearly a place that’s suffocating him, as he sings of things being “always the same“, as he drags your mood down to be in line with his. It’s the better of the two tunes, more akin to something Bowie would think up – it really is that adventurous and pulled from the hidden corners of one man’s imagination.
There’s a little bit of Look, Stranger in this, as he veers towards an old-Vegas kind of crooning shuffle. You could consider the band Space, the Liverpudlian band from back in the 90s for similarities, but otherwise there’s not much to compare it to in the contemporary field of peers. We applaud Flory’s rounded character development, for the designed environment in which that character is placed, and for the high-concept that he’s clearly taking risks to develop with this new work. Overall this is a story of sticking one’s neck out and trying new things and ultimately finding reward at the end of it all. What both Flory and the record label, Double Denim, seem masters at is their ability to remove all common fears and to allow creativity to flourish. That has to be respected and it’s with that kind of thinking that our world continues to evolve. It’s how things are kept interesting. You would be hard-pressed to find better examples of fresh imaginations than those on offer today. (MB)
AMATEUR BEST – THE WAVE
AMATEUR BEST – BE HAPPY