Following John Squire’s recent admission that only a handful of tracks have been recorded for the new long-awaited Stone Roses album, fans of late 80s Mancunian baggy-pop could do worse than look to Australian duo Jagwar Ma for a credible replacement.
The pair may have only been knee high to a grasshopper when the ‘Madchester’ scene was in full flow, not to mention living ten thousand miles away from it. But their blissed-out fusion of psychedelic rock, acid rave and 60s pop is perhaps the closest any act has come to recreating the era’s stoned sunshine sound since.
No stranger to the dance-rock crossover, Jono Ma was formerly the guitarist/keyboardist in Sydney quartet Lost Valentinos before he began composing music for both TV (ABC’s The Slap) and cinema (the gut-wrenching Aussie crime flick Animal Kingdom) and working with Foals on their recent critically-acclaimed LP, Holy Fire.
After hooking up with Gabriel Winterfield, the lead vocalist in shoegazing four-piece Ghostwood, back in 2011, the newly formed Jagwar Ma signed to Marathon Music, the label run by the man responsible for launching the careers of Daft Punk, Air and Phoenix, Philippe Ascoli.
Inspired by artists as eclectic as Aphex Twin, J Dilla and Bo Diddley, the duo then continued the Gallic theme by holing themselves up in a French farmhouse to record their debut album Howlin’, before eventually taking to the stage with appearances at Australia’s Big Day Out festival and a support slot with The xx.
Released earlier this month, Howlin’ is already being talked up as one of the debuts of the year thanks to twelve gloriously sun-drenched tracks such as the A Guy Called Gerald-esque classic house of “Four,” the Beach Boys-goes-indie pop of “Come Save Me” and the hypnotic chillwave of “Did You Have To?”
If The Stone Roses don’t get a move on quick, they might find themselves surplus to requirements.