According to 25 year-old New Jersey guitarist Steve Marion the world is already so full of stuff, “If you’re going to put something in why not make it something good instead of adding more negativity.” It’s a refreshingly uncynical sentiment matched by Marion’s charming, quirky and uplifting release for David Byrne’s label Luaka Bop. Don’t be put off by the fact he inhabits a cool New York clique featuring the Smallboypants collective and bands like Fang Island.
Positive Force is a joyful collision of old-school guitar smarts and a 21st century sound palette. Childlike, insistent and pleasingly repetitive melodies are his stock-in-trade; homegrown organ sounds abound and vocals are just for colour. With its gliding slide guitar line Ramona Reborn is a George Harrison tune reimagined by one for whom the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi is a classic rock record.
There’s more than a hint of Mike Oldfield’s playing style in the double-speed, faux 21-string tones of Wally Wilder, and the fast vibrato of Redeemer. Guitars chirrup and fizz and, notably on Sly Stone-referencing Afria Is Talking To You, really sing.
It’s a nasty old world alright – sweet stuff like this makes it a better place.