Listen Before You Buy

“Like The Smashing Pumpkins, when they were good.” So Lightouts describe themselves. I’ve heard of less ambitious introductions – there is such a thing as setting yourself up for a fall. How many members did The Smashing Pumpkins have, again? Like, four plus several extras? And we’re talking about the early years, with Billy Corgan at the peak of his powers. Up against this towering monolith of rock go two blokes from a grubby suburb of New York. You could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow and thinking, “Good luck.”

My first impression of Lightouts wasn’t The Smashing Pumpkins. Instead, it was that other towering monolith of rock Dinosaur Jr. I guess I could complain about false advertising, but why cut your nose off to spite your face? Besides, on reflection they do sound quite like The Smashing Pumpkins. The amount of noise that Gavin Rhodes and Greg Nelson can churn out between them when they put their minds to it is nothing short of phenomenal, but what really surprised me is that neither of them drums. Programmed drums on a rock record are normally about as welcome as a vuvuzela, but I didn’t even notice on my first listen to new single “And It Comes And Goes”. Kudos to Gavin for getting nearly as much energy out of a sequencer as Shel Talmy got out of Keith Moon.

I’m going to make a little confession, here. Quite a big one, actually. I’d never listened to any of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh or the like until, maybe, two years ago. So I’m grateful to Lightouts: they make me feel like I’m not more than a decade late for the parade; that good, balls-out alt. rock is still fresh and new and delightful. And you know what? It is still fresh and new and delightful. I found myself wondering why the hell nobody plays rhythm like this any more. People, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Especially if it’s your amp head, because it turns out they sound better when they’re banged up. Also, sod accurate tuning.

Oh, yeah, feedback – I have to mention feedback. There is honestly nothing else on earth quite as enjoyable as holding a guitar right next to a cab, turning the volume up as loud as you can, and then kneeing it a couple of times. Lead strummer Gavin’s greatest influence is Robert Smith of The Cure, and he does a pretty good job of capturing the style. No five-minute masturbatory solos, no “intense shredding”, no bowing the guitar with a violin – basically, no nonsense, though there is phaser. It’s not easy to use one without sounding hackneyed these days, but Lightouts’ toe-tapping conviction carries it off without breaking a sweat.

For anyone who, like me, missed the late ’80s and early ’90s, Lightouts will be a revelation. For everyone else, your nostalgia strings will be bowed to within an inch of their lives. I’m now very excited for upcoming album “Want”, which, I’m told, is receiving it’s final touches as I write; in the meantime, check out the freebies below, and hit up the links for more reminders of how much better rock was back in the day.

Connect with Lightouts – FacebookTwitterWebsiteMySpaceSoundcloud

Lightouts – ”And It Come And Goes”
Lightouts – ”Faces, Places”
Lightouts – ”I Am The Key (The La’s Cover)”