Friday, January 28, 2022

Winchester 7 & the Runners Capture an Old School Sound in ‘Catacomb Songs’

In their fourth EP ‘Catacomb Songs’, Winchester 7 & the Runners mix ukulele and indie rock to create something unexpectedly cohesive. Shocking as it may seem to casual listeners, ukulele can be surprisingly hard-core and all it takes is a listen to Winchester 7 & the Runners’ music to realize that indie-ukulele rock can and should be its own established genre.

Composed of three members spanning three countries (America, England and the Netherlands), Winchester 7 & the Runners flourished from the desire to make fun music and to make it now. Upon meeting, they bonded over a mutual love of film and music. They began rehearsing cover songs and writing their own in an to attempt to capture a unique sound, before developing this into the music they release today. Those early songs were also coupled with humorous music videos.


The real draw of their music lies in that homespun quality they bring to the table. None of it is overly glossy and while they don’t shy away from using production, it doesn’t sound like just anyone could’ve done it. Their song-writing influences are varied and prolific, including the likes of Paul McCartney, while their melodic influences lean towards the work of The PixiesThe ClashThe RamonesThe White StripesThe Black Keys, and The Stones.


Their track ‘Dead Celebrities And New Beginnings’ bears a Britpop flavour with some more psychedelic intonations. There is a lot of personality in the performance of their vocals which, in certain moments, echo David Byrne. The production and layers of sound also lend an edge to their music, apparent here in the guitar solo about halfway through the song.


These production elements feature again and again, most noticeably in songs such as ‘Arcade Days’ as well as the bonus editions of ‘Head On’ and ‘Beneath The Moon And The Stars’. Some of this owes to different mix sources (the bonus version of ‘Beneath The Moon And The Stars’ was mixed by PJ Gowan and Stardust Studios), however, much of this is down to the band’s whimsical production style. It’s especially prevalent in ‘Arcade Days’, which attempts to capture the nostalgia of childhood during the arcade era, taking Casio-like sounds and ambient noises to round it out.


Their lyricism has plenty of range too. Varying from sweeter tones in songs such as ‘The Song That You Sing’ and ‘Riding High With You’, to more ironic lyrics in ‘Up On The 13th Floor’, to commentary on life in ‘Ever Said’ – they’ve got it all covered. Their tone varies just as much from a hard-rock edge to aforementioned Casio tones, all accented by halting drums and a steady bass guitar. It’s an eclectic mix.


For those looking for a garage-band sound with more whimsy than most, look no further. Winchester 7 & the Runners have captured and continue to hold the attention of listeners – it’s little wonder why.


Chloe Boehm


Image: ‘Catacomb Songs’ Official EP Artwork



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