Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers

Having recorded their debut in an abandoned church beside Italy’s Romagna Hills, Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers have decamped alongside East London’s most revered expanse of water to give us their second offering, Banks Of The Lea.

It seems that on their journey to Hackney Wick’s Gizzard Studio, the Florence-based four-piece has taken a detour through the 1970s New York club scene via Mississippi before arriving in East London to produce these 10 whisky-fuelled tracks that innovatively weave together punk and blues.

Cantarelli’s vocal delivery evokes a sense of early Stooges as he scrawls “Take me up where the lights are flashing” over sandpaper guitars on ‘Jason Hit The City’. The track then breaks off into a Roxy Music atonal sax break, with lyrics about strutting down Wardour Street in a pair of Cuban heels.

“I’ve got no time for compassion,” Cantarelli’s slack-jawed Jagger-esque yawn dictates on ‘Arrogance Blues’, leaving no question from where the band draws its inspiration, while ‘Soul Seller’ arrives in a storm of sleazy slide guitar and wild interspersions of attitude, aptly showcasing the band’s amalgamation of styles.

These styles range beyond American punk rock, with the band particularly drawing on Britpop. As the chords of opener ‘The Streets’ ring out, you could easily be listening to a sneering bootleg ripped from a live show performed over a decade ago.

Great moments see poetic backing vocals hang in the space of the raw-sounding, analogue production, headed up by Stoke Newington’s Peter Bennett (founder of Monkey Island, The Dublo and Morning Bride), which extenuate the record’s twilight themes of insecurity and self-loathing.

Wearing its influences on its sleeve, Banks of the Lea is a record that is no more than the sum of its parts, but nevertheless one in which authenticity can’t be questioned, from a band that will no doubt continue to roam, framing their output within the locations they find themselves.

Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers play at Oslo 1a Amhurst Road, E8 1LL on 16 October

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