Curse of Lono: 4am and Counting
SUBMARINE CAT It’s a certain kind of band that wraps up their first two studio albums and then decides to immediately release a stripped-down retrospective collection. But that description, while apt, doesn’t do justice to Curse of Lono’s latest effort, 4am and Counting. Yes, 10 of the album’s 11 tracks are culled from the Londonbased outfit’s 2017 debut, Severed, and its follow-up, 2018’s As I Fell, but the group isn’t resting on their laurels here. Led by the rough-velvet, Knopfler-esque vocals of lead singersongwriter Felix Bechtolsheimer, Curse of Lono present a slightly altered version of their young catalog that feels more immediate, giving the sense that this is closer to how the band sees themselves than the two LPs so far. Opening track “Tell Me About Your Love,” off As I Fell, turns the driving, wide-open original into a more personal moment—fueled by intimately strummed electric guitar— that allows for the band’s harmonies to fully shine through, along with more selective instrumentation highlighted by pedal-steel shimmer from B.J. Cole. Bechtolsheimer and his bandmates hoped that 4am and Counting would provide a glimpse into how the group plays these tunes when they’re “jamming late at night,” and with the no-frills atmosphere of London’s Toe Rag Studios and direction of producer Liam Watson (who helmed The White Stripes’ Grammy-winning Elephant album) they had ample opportunity to succeed at that goal. The one cover on the album, “Goin’ Out West,” finds Bechtolsheimer toning down Tom Waits’ original strained growl to a more palatable gravelly croon, while “Welcome Home” (from Severed ) has the singer upping his vocal register and offering a more countryfried take on the track (complete with guest harmonica from Nick Reynolds). Songs like “Valentine”— As I Fell ’s opener—and Severed ’s “Pick Up the Pieces” lean more into Curse of Lono’s Americana side than their originals, to great effect. It’s impossible to say which versions of these tracks the band will favor in their future live performances but, either way, it’s refreshing to see a younger band already exploring the joys of experimenting with their own art.