THE DRAMS Jubilee Drive (New West)

Morphing together members of alt.countrymen Slobberbone and rock classicists Budapest One, it’s not a staggering surprise to find The Drams’ debut album plying a tightly-meshing modern day Southern rock/country-rock hybrid. Immediate reference points include a swampier Son Volt or a pre-weirdness Wilco, the band even modelling Jeff Tweedy’s jacket ‘n’ jeans look.

With its thick harmonies and wodges of guitars, “Truth Lies Low” sounds far more of a gang effort than anything on the Randall Bramblett album reviewed elsewhere. There’s a stately swagger to “Holy Moses”, and a chiming 60s pop homage buried in the Red Krayola-namechecking “Fireflies”. Lush with string and horn arrangements, “You Won’t Forget” manages to be both jaunty and sad, whilst encapsulating in a nutshell the questing country-psych of Wilco circa “Summerteeth”. The album’s high point for me is “You & Me, MF” (no, it stands for “my friend”) a Mellotron-marinated interlude later echoed by “Shortsighted” with its memorable anti-success clarion call of “Let’s play the shit joints/Let’s just make up the songs as we go along”. There’s archetypal tour bus blues on “Des Moines” and mixed-up, hungover confusion on “Wonderous Life”, again very Wilco with its sparse piano chords and vocal distortions.

“Jubilee Drive” might not be the most staggeringly distinctive album you’ll hear all year (unless the W section of your record collection is underpopulated by the works of Mr Tweedy’s crew), but it’s foot-tapping fun with ideas way above the stations that might suggest.