The Walnut Dash: Titbits

Gary Glauber

If tight mod-influenced power pop nuggets are your thing, then you need to hear Titbits, the band's mini-CD debut.

The Walnut Dash


Label: Vinyl Japan
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2004-04-19

Sometimes you just get a hankering for that sweet retro sound -- that kind of guitar-driven melodic rock with harmonies and strong beats that comprised the steady fare on the radio decades ago. These days that sound is in demand mostly in the clubs of Japan, where the Walnut Dash has had three big hits. If tight mod-influenced power pop nuggets are your thing, then you need to hear Titbits, the band's mini-CD debut.

The Walnut Dash are a trio of tall chums out of Essex and London, featuring Tom Braham (vocals/guitar), Malcolm Moore (bass/vocals) and Daryl Keys (drums/vocals). Together since 2001, the band had to take a slight break while Moore toured as a session bassist with Westlife this past year. In actuality, they may well be Britain's tallest band, with an average height of 6'3".

This eight-song collection never overstays its welcome. In fact, most of the songs are only two minutes and change, leaving the listener wanting more. At less than 18 minutes, this music goes by far too quickly.

The mini-CD opens with "Going Straight", a song with traded vocals reminiscent of Squeeze's Tilbrook and Difford, circa Cool for Cats. Great drumming propels this upbeat track, a musical proclamation of changing one's ways moving forward: "I've had a quick one / I've had a few / I've had a giggle / I once had you."

"Sarah H." is a pretty, mid-tempo ballad about someone whose heart gets broken by an ill-suited and uncaring acquaintance: "I'm on the ground floor / She's on the third / love between the two has never been heard / but Sarah doesn't care at all / All outside the charts, she's top three / I'm old rags, she's contemporary / but Sarah doesn't care at all."

"Your Mum" is another catchy winner, with a bit of mid-1960s era Rolling Stones about it. The daughter's lewd, the mother's uninformed: "Does your mother know what goes on under her roof? / Does your mother know the deck is wet and your cannon's loose? / Does your mother know just how many people you have screwed? / Does your mother know you're sending photos of you nude? / I know more than I ever wanted to about you / There'd be murders if your mother only knew."

Cute and catchy tracks seem to come effortlessly for the Walnut Dash. "Just Feel" is an infectious little ditty about a May-December romance: "She won't believe it's not another bum deal / if she can't see that my love is real / she should just feel." Fans of the Buzzcocks will enjoy the brief but harmony-laden "I'm In Love". The lyrics capture the feeling succinctly, "The stalking, the swearing / I'm in love / the sulking in silence / I'm in love / the stopping, the shouting / I'm in love."

"Top Drawer" is another top-drawer pop winner, about a returning warrior ("You know the score, we are the law") coming for a word, for a go. "Stupid O'Clock" (in the morning) builds slowly, a la Tommy James' "I Think We're Alone Now", relating the tale of an early hour tryst that shakes things up a bit. This short collection ends with the celebratory "Cheers to Yer", a delightful little toast from the band to its faithful listeners: "Knock it back and have another / don't mind if I do / hats off, cheers to you / one more, then I'm through / Cheers to me, cheers to us, cheers to you."

The Walnut Dash have a bit of the old magic in their brief melodic snippets of songs, from the Hollies to the Buzzcocks, the Stones, Herman's Hermits, Squeeze and more recently, Farrah. These songs tease you, grabbing your interest and then quickly taking their leave, like some masked crusader (the lone arranger?). "Who was that mysterious mod trio?", you might ask. I don't know, but they were melodic in a retro way and they sure were tall. Here's hoping Titbits is just the start of bigger things for the Walnut Dash.

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