Alfa 9 drifted onto my listening post around October last year, when a promo copy of their second album Gone to Ground landed on my Plectrum The Cultural Pick review pile. Originally scheduled for an autumn/winter release, but, as album launches often do - the date slipped with GtG dropping into the pop-o-sphere in early 2013. And splaining the 2012 references in my review and Vive Le Rock end of year round-up..
Groups below the Watford Gap were Thames based blues-beaters, reworking Mississippi and Chicago influences into the slab-handed riffing and pentatonic rolling of the Stones, The Who and The Yardbirds,
Whereas in the north - Country and Western albums, imported through the docks informed the niftily fingered arpeggios of The Beatles, The Hollies then later The Smiths, Stone Roses and The La's.
The source of Gone to Ground's ringing chordal peels are firmly rooted in the northern hemisphere, but warmed by a gulf stream of blue-sky, tie-dyed harmonies breezing across the Atlantic from Laurel Canyon.
Alfa 9 describe their sound as 'Dreamy psychedelia' and 'Spaghetti psychedelic country' - to these ears it's Syd Barret and The Byrds in nudie suits singing songs for swingers shoegazers. An album that would have David Crosby applying approving strokes to his walrus moustache, and wouldn't appear out of place alongside any of Island's (poppier) pink label era releases.
Winging in Myles Clarke (The Who/Pete Townsend) to oversee the mix brings an air of authentic hand-stitching to the project. With its union of two country styles: Nashville, and nature (repeat references to seeds, grass, rain and sunshine weave through the lyrics) I've no doubt, when 2012 closes out, Gone to Ground's joyous, jangling and ringing will be my album of the year, where every track is a pot of gold spilling rainbows in its trail
This review first appeared in PTCP issue 14