[sic] Magazine

The Blueflowers – Watercolor Ghost Town

An unknown quantity from a known quantity. The Blueflowers guitar maestro Tony Hamera and siren vocalist Kate Hinote used to be the core axis of Detroit Shoegaze act Ether Aura. (Think Curve, Garbage and Lush etc) I say, “used to be” because I’m unsure whether The Blueflowers is a side-project or a ‘start-from-scratch’ reinvention. Ether Aura made good records and were perhaps unlucky with their timing as each release seemed to co-inside with a slew of other ‘gazer revivalists. We can only speculate as to why they might radically alter course in this way. Watercolour Ghost Town is a mile away from the FX heavy Ether Aura. The Blueflowers paint a world of alt-countrified slide, 1950’s rock n roll balladry and steel pedal twang.

The title Watercolor Ghost Town somehow keeps evoking memories of Richard Brautigan’s novella, In Watermelon Sugar, a unique and truly beautiful tale. I wonder if the record is a homage? The inlay shows our lovely Blueflowers looking like David Lynch’s house band. This could be a still from the cutting room floor circa Mulholland Drive. If Lynch had directed an episode of Happy Days then The Blueflowers would provide the Prom Night show. ‘Any three words’ is a typical example of a first teenage slow dance – dreamlike, yet unsure of footing. Hinote sounds like Debbie Harry if she’d taken the lead role in Grease. ‘Just for show’ recalls The Monkees with tambourine flourishes and organ. Elsewhere the slide guitar comes to the fore. ‘I can’t stop my heart from breaking’ sounds like a Hank Williams title. Imagine Asobi Seksu in cowboy boots. (Easy boys)

I was half hoping ‘You’re not the only one’ might be a cover of The Sundays. It isn’t but it is a thing of loveliness – all fragile and yearning with Hamera again on violin this time although he might just as well be pulling on our heartstrings. ‘You’re not the only one’ is preceded by the albums best track ‘I wasn’t her’, another ballad but easily the best of the bunch.

Reservations? None in particular. The album is varied enough. 11 warm, summer raindrops that’ll mist up your vision and paint your world in watercolours. As a lover of dark, intense indie perhaps this offering is a little too light, too ‘flowery’ and not quite ‘blue’ enough. Certainly hearts are breaking in the lyrics but the accompanying music is a skip to the meadow in Little House on The Prairie. I would have favoured a whole album/project in the style of ‘In Oceans’ the epic closing track from ace Ether Aura album, Crash. The Blueflowers are to Ether Aura what Mojave 3 were to Slowdive. Don’t expect continuity. This is something else, something more, something different. They deserve credit for that and not just that. My girlfriend reminds me that the 50’s are back. Retro is brand new apparently and Watercolor Ghost Town could be the new ‘now’.

Listen and learn