REVIEW: Curse of Lono “People In Cars”


Curse of Lono – People In Cars

Some music that turns out good but not always at first listen. Needs to settle, ferment, breathe. Curse of Lono (taken from a 1983 Hunter S. Thompson book) is that. It’s in the tradition of The Swans’ Michael Gira who took The Swans into a more hyperkinetic dark country-infused genre. “Let Your Love Rain Down On Me,” has that deep Swans’ emotionless male vocal that dominates yet pours a delicacy of melody throughout. It starts to take hold of one’s ears on the second pass.

The same can be said for “Think I’m Alright Now,” a heavy frame of music performed with broad strokes to produce an intriguing song that has country running through it at its root. The tunes are not languid or industrial – Curse of Lono (formed in London in 2015) maintains a respectful distance & paints with pastel hues above a dark stream. It’s effectively atmospheric with a Fellini feel, not a mainstream American exploitative touch.

People In Cars (Drops April 22–Submarine Cat Records) is their 3rd — produced by Oli Bayston (piano/keys/guitar/bass). The British band explores the haunted sides of music where the likes of Brecht-Weill dwell.

The lyrics are expressive and somber with vocal tonality akin to Lee Hazelwood (sang with Nancy Sinatra). The mist is alt-country but no good ole boy scenarios it’s all antebellum gothic. Like the opening scene on TV’s Chiller Theater. The mood is oily smooth and slides into a sandpapery grind.

Some songs could’ve been more powerful if shorter. But if listened to with an open ear it can be quite cerebral. On “Man Down,” there’s a lasting sense of a twisted personality that tries to proclaim its innocence. You have to allow this demon to reach into your imagination. There’s enough variety through the material of songwriter Felix Bechtolsheimer (guitar).


Curse of Lono

“Steppin’ Out,” has the melodic romanticism of Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry but never reaches the charcoal-voiced attraction of Mark Campbell (The Nails’ “Darkness Grows Uncivilized”). It’s all likable since there’s nothing like it today. It’s throaty, saucy & each delivery – sticks in your ears.

The music swells within the arrangements. At times the lead vocals hover over the heavy creepiness of Amon Duul’s late vocalist/bassist Lothar Meid (“Deutsch Nepal”). Decades older than anything here. It adds to the band’s ability to smoke out rhythms with the greasy guitar licks, a Sheryl Crow cum Lucinda Williams lead vocal by Tess Parks (“So Damned Beautiful”) — it resonates with charm.

Players – Joe Harvey Whyte (pedal steel), Joe Hazel (guitar), Charis Anderson (bass), Dani Ruiz Hernandez (keys), Neil Findlay & Liam Hutton (drums), Ellie Mason & Imogen Mason (bv), Nina Kiva (cello) & Raven Bush (strings).

What wasn’t well-done is the CD artwork, it doesn’t coincide with the music accurately. Nice lyrical insert though. The 11 songs — well-shaped, compelling & accessible. A variety of songs by consummate performers. In a word: it’s excellent.

B&W Image by Hana Knizova. The 52-minute CD: Available @



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