Take the Ramones at their peak and place them in the same studio with the Beatles. Now take away the guitars, and replace them with electrified, overdriven ukuleles. You now have the basic elements to start a forward-thinking indie rock musical project called Winchester 7 & the Runners. This is where sophisticated, catchy ear-warming melodies and harmonies, cross paths with chunky rock rhythms, and raw punk abrasiveness. At the helm of this mellifluous mayhem sits Atlanta, Georgia-based Winchester 7 himself, taking care of vocals and ukulele. He is backed by his alter-egos Phil Voorhees (bass), based in Amsterdam, and the itinerant Jack Kane (drums), who can be found somewhere in the UK.
Winchester 7 & the Runners are now releasing their 3rd album, entitled ‘Argos Holiday’. The band truly smashed it out of the park with giant riffs, powerful vocals, and everything that makes rock and its derivatives as majestic as it once was. The album begins strongly with the banging rocker “When the World Stops Spinning”, and stays rolling for its entire 9 track runtime.
The jangling “In The Mornight Light” continues the record with confident drive, the crunchy ukulele motifs and the grand vocals leading to a powerful recording. The ukulele reaches epic riffing heights on the upbeat “Gonna Start Right Now” – a characteristic that this record loves to establish time and time again without wearing it out.
“My Super 8” with its British wave influences keeps that notion going, together with its bouncy atmosphere, angular ukulele lines, and the smooth, easy on the ear vocals. “The Saint Simon Killer” follows through with a more alternative presence and an insistent percussive vibe, exploding with ukulele grace.
If there was a single word to describe this record, it would be, undoubtedly, “timeless”. There are obviously powerful nostalgic sounds incorporated here that reminds us of the best music from yesterday. But the way the project has been executed and put together reeks of today’s technological advancement, and that of tomorrow. Every song peaks with some glorious expression of energy and ingenious crafting.
There are some truly epic moments on this record, especially at its core, but the absolute high for me has to be “Dirty Laundry”. Admittedly, I am an absolute Pink Floyd fanatic, and a David Gilmour disciple, and this song just carries that same powerful atmospheric Floyd aura that sweeps your senses out from under you and into a vortex of emotion.
When, after the umpteenth time, I finally managed to stop pressing the replay button, I encountered the overdriven crunch of “The Golden Age” with its thick riffs and beautiful melodies. Things take a turn towards slower alternative art-pop, on the cover of David Bowie’s “Modern Love”. Bowie set the bar high with the original, and to this day that precedent still holds, but Winchester 7 & the Runners do a damn good job with their version.
The album closes with a bonus track, “The Saint Simon Killer”, which was mixed and mastered by the legendary Stuart Epps (George Harrison, Oasis, Elton John etc.). All throughout this album Winchester 7 & the Runners take on subtle doses of punk, psychedelia, acid rock, alt-rock and indie-rock, armed with a ukulele and the ingenious mind of Winchester 7.
In the process, Winchester 7 & the Runners deliver a ponderous avalanche of big emotions, sweeping vocals and epic guitar-like sonics. So if you’re casting around for a seminal, modern indie-rock album, ‘Argos Holiday’ is about as near as the best choice you can make.