In 2017, LA’s GospelbeacH reignited the classic sound of California, this year, the unlikely grey skies of Newcastle-Upon-Lyme are following in those footsteps. The four piece Alfa 9, have surged onto the roots scene this year with their third album ‘My Sweet Movida’.
Leading this charge is ‘Movida’, sounding like a lost single from The Coral’s ‘Butterfly House’ album. Phil Mason’s gentile vocal flow wraps around his, and Leon Jones’ effortless guitar playing. This is the sound of alternative pop music begging to be loved by the masses.
'Different Corner' and 'When The Light Goes Out' make up a trio of great radio friendly pop efforts on ‘Movida’. The former taps into the spirit Teenage Fanclub, much like Daniel Wylie’s sun kissed album 'Scenery For Dreamers'. Meanwhile, ‘When The Light Goes Out' is a light trip through Paisley psyche, using the guitars of Shack’s ‘Cup of Tea’ and ‘Pull Together’ to garner real affection.
'When I Think Of You' however, best encapsulates this albums spirit. Its beautifully elsewhere, whether it’s talking about love, loss or hope. The sense of longing and melancholy colliding with sun drenched musicianship shape shifts from nostalgia to aspirational in moments. 'Coincidence Files' furthers this with the great lyrics “time it passed you by” and “it all works out the same”. Feeling lost never felt this sprightly before.
There is an expansive guitar side always threatening to break out on this record. The album isn’t lacking solos but, on 'Rise' and the trippy closer 'Fly', the highlight reel grows significantly. Think Stills at his sprawling best with Manassas.
Having proven this consistency, hopefully Alfa 9's careers will be secured by playing sunny afternoons at festivals. This body of work highlights how giving artists time and space to grow can achieve great results.