You’re on Planet Jazz, man.
That’s right – sit back and let it all hang out…
Just don’t get too comfortable, ‘cos here he comes.
It’s Charlie Murphy, your host for this evening – an ululating punk Tarzan, back with a brand new track.
You may remember Charlie from such hit-churners as ‘The Red Cords’, ‘Murph & The Gazorpos’ and ‘Holiday Ghosts’.
But Planet Jazz are a whole different beast. With Murphy on lead guitar and vocals, backed by Josh Turner, and Jake Willbourne and Sam Stacpoole of the Black Tambourines, you’d anticipate typical Falmouth fare. But ordinary rules don’t apply here. Not on Planet Jazz.
Willbourne, typically known for bass, adds a string or two; meanwhile Stacpoole, a guitar player, picks up the sticks.
And these unfamiliar duties facilitate an equally original sound — no matter how much the track borrows from the rich traditions of the past.
‘Bad Teeth’ is raw, punchy, unabashed power pop at its best, inspired by bands like The Nerves, Flamin’ Groovies and Costello.
The bouncy lead riff is instantly catchy, punctuated by the jerky syncopated drums of The Black Tambourines frontman.
If it’s a slight departure from Fal’s signature garage rock dish, the track exudes a live, nervous energy all the same. For sure, you’ll still be nodding like a broken Churchill dog.
Straight away, it’s clear Murphy has accentuated the more unusual elements of his vocals. Those familiar with his recent side projects will recognise it’s an ongoing trend, and he’s cool with the “punk Tarzan” label I assign him.
“I’ve always had a pretty weird voice,” says Murphy. “I’ve just tried to embrace it a little more with the new things I’ve been doing.”
He sure has. There’s hints of Argentina’s Tall Juan and, of course, the Ramones …but really the band go their own way.
“I figured that tonnes of musicians I love have weird voices,” the frontman reflects.
Lyrically, the song sets him up waiting for the distant girl that’s never gonna come — with a jiving chorus begging “Why you livin’ so far from me?”
Along with his solo project’s debut single ‘I Wana be (Someone Else)‘ — similarly released on Nerve Centre Records – it’s tempting to link this sense of geographical estrangement to the Fal scene’s own removal from the UK’s supposed cultural locus.
But really it’s the typical plaintive cry of the hopeless romantic…even if the typical pop song is ironised by its protagonist sitting around in a gloomy bedroom with his teeth falling out.
“I was aware with these set of songs that I had a pretty depressing set of lyrics as I’d been through a big break up around the time the band started,” Murphy says.
Still, he continues, “I wanted the music to be joyful and the opposite of the lyrics.”
“I’ve always found the kind of rock n roll that inspires us is totally joyful, so I wanted to the put those two together as opposites“.
So it goes. For all the daffodils and jaunty guitar lines, the air of good times approaching is pretty quickly dampened by Murph pent-up in his “tomb,” probably scrawling heartfelt inscriptions to Dick Dale, waiting for a Californian sunset that’s never going to come.
Just as all things begin and end at the beach, he ends up splayed out on the sand. But one thing’s for sure: even if ‘Bad Teeth’ — like all good power pop hits — is over almost as soon as it’s begun, it’ll be stuck in your head for a whole lot longer.
The forthcoming debut EP from Planet Jazz will be titled “Thank You for Having Me“. As ever, it was recorded by Ben Woods and Sam Stacpoole at Troubadour studios in Falmouth.
Available in all good galaxies this month.