This début album from Turnstile Junkpile is recorded proof that retro can be progressive as they have created a piece of timeless quality Americana with strong contemporary lyrics penned by Mat Clark that provoke thought without being pretentious.
The four-piece London based band is led by Mat Clark and capably assisted by colleagues Lawrence McNamara, Ben Sumner and Dave Shaw on the usual array of string and percussion instruments you would expect on an album like this. Banjo and the twin steel sounds of pedal and lap, combined with that of standard guitars will always enhance a recording when played well and there is ample evidence of this being the case on this self-released 7 track album.
‘Time is Running Out’, creates a mood that belongs in genuine Americana with banjos and guitars and a swinging rhythm with a clear British accent on vocals for a quality up-tempo opener which could be construed as addressing the issue of mortality.
There is definitely more of a rock ‘n’ roll feel to the second track ‘This Isn’t What We Signed Up For’ especially with some of the guitar solos which assist a song appearing to evaluate a feeling of frustration.
The slower third track, ‘Wishing Well’ is a country flavoured song which makes comment on those using faith to take short cuts with lyrics including: “You can pray if you want to, but the wishing well is dry. They’ll never hear your cries, as hard as you may try” demonstrates the effective use of banjo and steel. It is considered by many as the best track on the album.
The banjo opens the jaunty number ‘How How How’. This song explodes into life in the latter stages with the powerful rhythm and blues sound emanating from a combination of harmonica and banjo.
‘Zanzibar’ has a more conventional rock sound with the electric guitar, great drumming and superb lyrics has a leaning towards the influences of the southern states.
The banjo-led acoustic sixth track ‘In the Morning’ is a tale of seeing things in a different light served in a slower folk style accompanied by some delightful steel and effective backing harmonies. The closing and title track ‘Everything is Cheaper Than It Looks’, once again has the banjo featuring subtly in the background with the lyrics painting a vivid image of retail in a bygone age.