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THE COOL GREENHOUSE

The Cool Greenhouse

Sod's Toastie

    With Sod’s Toastie, Tom Greenhouse and his intrepid band of sonic explorers are more assured and confident than ever throughout this sublime sophomore album.

    While frontman Tom Greenhouse’s off-kilter observations and bizarro anecdotes remain front and centre, this time round the band up their game with a more vigorous sound that keeps pace with Greenhouse’s wholly distinctive lyrical style. Greenhouse continues to revel in telling increasingly surreal short stories, rejoicing in the power of the deadpan one-liner and bedecking his songs with far-flung cultural references. But now the band employ a variety of techniques with improved production, from the impulsively bashed keyboards and jubilantly repetitive guitar stabs that have become their trademark, to flirtations with–heaven forbid!–melody, chord progressions and arrange- ments which elevate their tried-and-tested blueprint into a more exciting and cohesive whole.

    Opener Musicians is the perfect embodiment of this conscious development. Here, Greenhouse recounts a sarcastic tale of half-truths that see him galavanting around town trying to put a band together. Sonically, it begins with a caustic callback to the group’s first EP Crap Cardboard Pet and its über-minimalist aesthetic. But by the end of the song a joyous festival of afrobeat-inspired instruments including samba whistles, bongos and saxophones are added to the mix as the frontman, ironically, fails in his mission to recruit more players.

    With Get Unjaded, the band have somehow conjured something close to pop, without abandoning the repetition and wit that’s relished by their early fans. I Lost My Head also adopts a jangle-pop sheen with a luscious synth melody, as the frontman ditches the spoken-word for a surly croon (his first known attempt at actual singing!) that provides a welcome breather from the onslaught of dense recantations that are the band’s bread-and-butter.

    While the lyrics here are still often humorous and political, Greenhouse has also notably expanded his interests on this album to include a new host of topics. The influence of extraterrestrials, for example, infiltrates the subject matter frequently. On The UFOs, the mysterious protagonist Blinkus Booth’s isolationist lifestyle is apparently interrupted by the spectres of otherworldly visitors, while closer The Neoprene Ravine feels like an extract from a deep space rock opera. Here, jaunty and angular instruments pile-on as we are fed images of an interstellar Spinal Tap, the titular fictional band “The Neoprene Ravine” who are “the alien equivalent of the Velvet Underground” and include an alien Lou Reed yelping “too busy sucking on my little green ding dong!”.

    Meanwhile, Hard Rock Potato is propelled by a vortex of keys and synths, a real noise-pop gem comprised of real guitar chords (!) and rock-orientated riffs. Here the stream-of-consciousness lyrics take shots at the sinister financial industry, and include one of the many top-tier one-liners on the album: “It’s not gambling if you’re wearing a tie (even if you’ve got no trousers on)”.

    On Sod’s Toastie, The Cool Greenhouse have pushed their distinctive flavour of post-punk to the point of perfection – their incongruous riffs, alchemical instrumental chemistry, and irreverent spoken-word vocals are a delight throughout. Sod’s Toastie is hilarious at times, and at others just hi- lariously good – a not-so-difficult second album. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Angular instrumentation and wry social commentary form the backbone of this soaringly clever and brilliantly dynamic second album from The Cool Greenhouse. It's full of sweet melodies and wonderfully vivid real-life tales, both smooth and surprising at points, a fun listen.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Musicians
    2. Sod's Toastie
    3. The UFOs
    4. Get Unjaded
    5. I Lost My Head
    6. The Next Stage Of Destiny
    7. Hard Rock Potato
    8. Get Deluded
    9. Y.O.L.H
    10. The Neoprene Ravine

    The Cool Greenhouse

    The Cool Greenhouse

      Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but The Cool Greenhouse are about to shatter glass ceilings with their self-titled debut LP.

      “I wanted to hear repetitive music that wasn’t pretentious” tells the band’s voice Tom Greenhouse of his personal agenda to inject some pop sentimentality into the rock’n’roll textbook. “The mission was to make long, repetitive pop music that wasn’t boring. I soon realised I could do that through focusing on the lyrics.”

      With phrases culled from the pages of his many notebooks, Greenhouse has a way with words. Exploring Rotary Club jumble sales and mausoleums or making futuristic voyages into musical VR, his songs dig at the gammon classes and scoff at the stupidity of society alongside pop punches about female harassment. Inspired by conversations and magazine articles he narrates upon the world as he sees it, preferring wise-cracks and judgement to merely passing comment. “At school I wrote a story about a whale that fell in love with a submarine and tried to have sex with it which almost caused a serious nuclear meltdown; it won a prize. As a teenager I thought I was Arthur Rimbaud so moved to Paris and wrote terrible poetry.”

      Down and out in Paris and later, in London, Tom got skint fast so headed to the sticks of Norwich. Sitting in his garden, inspired to turn scripture into song and record it on a friend’s tape recorder, he began penning the album between writing clickbait articles to get by and turned to humour to express his deeper thoughts; “A lot of punk is on the nose like “fuck the Tories” but I’m not that hardcore. Humour is good for talking about serious things without getting too sentimental.”

      Encouraged by The Shadow Ring’s Graham Lambkin (“I wrote to him asking whether it was worth the bother. He sent a really nice reply. He probably doesn’t remember, but it spurred me on.”), Tom took to the live circuit, but his solo backing track performances needed a fuller sound. Ahead of securing a show with The Stroppies, he turned to the talent of guitarist Tom O Driscoll, bassist Thom Mason, drummer and percussionist Kevin Barthelemy and Merlin Nova on keys and synths, harmonium, melodica, violin and backing vocals. “We practiced the songs and played that first show; we did a good job and Melodic signed us! Those guys are crazy,” Tom says. Perhaps not; also championed by DIY it could be a sign of things to come as the band prepare for their Great Escape debut.

      Discovering The Cool Greenhouse’s first 7” (which coincidentally mentioned his own surname) ace producer, sound engineer and mixer Phil Booth (Sleaford Mods, Jake Bugg) invited the group to his JT Soar studio in Nottingham. The old potato-packing warehouse offered an idiosyncratic working method for the band, who recorded the album over 7 days as live between kipping on its couches, 4am whiskey-soaked sessions and Mario Kart ’64 on demand. “Phil’s got all the kit and know-how, but the studio is rough around the edges with great character,” Tom tells. “There were weird little synchronistic miracles… discussing a song then seeing its title on a shop window, finding things in pubs straight out of our songs… these zapped me onto some sort of Jungian plane where I didn’t need sleep and knew just what to do.”

      Blissfully instinctive, Tom’s lexicon flies across the album with the agitation of an internal monologue that won’t quit. From pop culture to cautionary tales, anything deemed too musically extravagant was swiftly removed before being mastered by Mikey Young (Bodega, Amyl and the Sniffers); “we added a tympani and clarinet but ended up taking it all off again” At times the Truman Show-trappings of ‘Trojan Horse’ or ‘Gum’s unsettling cowbell hint at the motoric. For now, whatever it is that gets you going, let’s just call it The Cool Greenhouse effect.


      TRACK LISTING

      01 The Sticks
      02 Cardboard Man
      03 Gum
      04 Life Advice
      05 Dirty Glasses
      06 Smile, Love!
      07 Trojan Horse
      08 4Chan
      09 Prospects
      10 Outlines
      11 The Subletters Pt 2 (Ft. The Shifters)


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