The Golden Dregs – Hope is for the Hopeless
The Golden Dregs - Hope is for the Hopeless
(Funnel Music Ltd.)

Release Date: Out Now

Benjamin Woods has a bit of a cult status in Cornwall due to his membership of various bands and working his production magic with others but I think his current persona, the Golden Dregs, finds him at his very best. Be warned, however, new album ‘Hope is for the Hopeless’ is not a party album unless your party is at the Bang Bang Bar in Twin Peaks. We get underway with the understated cowboy swagger of ‘Back Down the Mountain’, complete with chinking spurs, before ‘Congratulations’ picks the pace up without losing any of the lo-fi charm or charity shop suave. ‘The Thirst of May’ has a slinking, Velvet Underground guitar line and Woods’ deep vocal singing “do you really want to waste your life? Well I think you’d make a good ex-wife” with deadpan cool.

The organ that heralds ‘Death of a Salesman’ is the stuff of gospel choirs but the tune that follows has a sense of mid-west slow-life that would have BBC 6Music falling over themselves if Woods was a true-blue Yanky. ‘Nobody Ever Got Rich (by Making People Sad)’ is simultaneously vast and sprawling as well as introverted and reclusive – as if U2 and Johnny Cash teamed up on a track produced by Badly Drawn Boy and Eels (now who wouldn’t want to be in that studio?). The emerging melody of ‘The Queen of Clubs’ is like a siren song from the depths of a tropical jungle, full of heat, confusion and sexuality in the humidity of the tumbling notes. By contrast, however, ‘Pathos’ is a more straightforward and accessible lament that brings the likes of Nick Cave and Evan Dando to mind in vibe and vocal performance.

AKA Benjamin Woods
The Golden Dregs’ sound is so effortlessly cool, largely because it’s not trying to be cool, but that all switches around on ‘Just Another Rock’ with a nifty little electro melody giving the low slung guitar notes and shuffling beat the kind of geek-chic the Jarvis Cocker made a career out of. ‘Clarksdale, MS’ is the kind of song you want to leave home to – full of hastily wiped away tears and raindrops snaking their way down car windows as everything you’ve ever known slowly shrinks in the rear-view mirror. As is Woods’ way, however, the mood doesn’t stay too low for too long as the sleepily romantic ‘Nancy and Lee’ soon pops up with a skittish guitar rhythm and mournful cello to put an arm around your shoulder and take you to the nearest pub.

Controversially, the title track of the album is saved for last and ‘Hope is for the Hopeless’ finds the Golden Dregs doing the best Leonard Cohen you’ll hear this year like some sort of doomed lullaby for an even more doomed soul. The Golden Dregs may only be with us for a while, a short time, but this is about quality rather than quantity and you’ll be hard pushed to find an album containing more quality, substance and style than this one, wherever you look right now.

Live Dates:

18th October – St James Concert & Assembly Hall, Guernsey
11th November – The Crofters Rights, Bristol
12th November – The Fish Factory, Penryn
14th November – The Rose Hill, Brighton
15th November – Port Mahon, Oxford
18th November – The Castle Hotel, Manchester
20th November – Mono Café Bar, Glasgow
21st November – Cobalt Studios CIC, Newcastle upon Tyne