If you’re going to pose for your website promo photos sporting a Pelham Blue Gibson 335 and record your early demos at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, then you’d better have some serious rock n’ roll chops to back up your chutzpah. Thankfully for Wigan’s Joe Astley, he’s got them in spades. And then some.
Astley’s debut solo single, ‘Revolution Postponed’, draw Dylan and Billy Joel comparisons, and the follow-up ‘Anthem For The North’ made #1 on the Indie Countdown of 2020, garnering praise from luminaries such as John McClure, Clint Boon, and Robert Carlyle along the way. Now back with the debut for his newly-formed ten-piece rock’n’roll backers ‘The Wallgate Band’, Astley’s new track ‘Television Fantasy’ has a lot to live up to. And it does, admirably.
Opening with some deep, twanging Bigsby-driven guitar shimmers and Astley’s easy, charismatic vocals, underscored by some thunderous rolling bass, ‘Television Fantasy’ teases with sensual little horn stabs on the lift before suddenly kicking in with one of the catchiest, poppiest indie-rock choruses you’re going to hear all 2021, all thumping snare drum, jangly guitar, and singalong hook – complete with a bunch of ‘woah oh oh’s that are guaranteed to stick in your head for several hours after the final dextrous little guitar solo has faded out.
Make no mistake, this is a proper little mash-up of rock, indie, and old-school rock ‘n’ roll, part Reverend and the Makers, part Cramps, part Eddie Cochrane, with a side helping of Bryan Adams and the pop sensibilities of Robbie Williams thrown in for good measure. As a first glimpse of the forthcoming debut EP, it’s an absolute triumph.
Review by Alex Holmes