by Craig Howieson
William The Conqueror’s Ruarri Joseph has been around a bit. Steadily releasing albums since 2007, four under his own name, then a further two with his friends – Harry Harding (drums) and Naomi Holmes (bass) – as William The Conqueror, he is well versed in the harsh realities of trying to make a living in the music industry.
And all of this makes the band’s new single, Wake Up, all the more intriguing. Rattling with the youthful exuberance of a group just starting out, it is swollen with the blustering certitude of a group yet to have the wind taken from their sails. But yet, it doesn’t sound like the early onset of a mid-life crisis. Instead, it celebrates the confidence found in making music free of pretence.
Despite being conceived in the West Country where the group is based, the song’s true origins can be found on the other side of the Atlantic. Sandblasted blues guitar licks tower over trundling drums and low slung bass lines, as Joseph veers from speak-singing to a soulful bellow reminiscent of Nathaniel Rateliff. There is also plenty of Californian slacker rock thrown in for good measure, as Joseph delivers his deadpan chorus – ‘You should be famous / You should be in the papers / Without your make-up.’ There’s plenty here to keep fans of a certain Mr Malkmus entertained, but, beyond that, it is a tantalising taster of what one can only hope is more to come.
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