Guts Club – The Arm Wrestling Tournament

The year is 2010. There’s a man selling newspapers in the Welsh valleys. He’s been doing so for many a year, ever since his music career came to an almighty halt. He remembers Merthyr Tydfil’s RM Rock Club fondly. It was here that his playing reached a pinnacle (of sorts) – the Hendrix tribute band. He pins a poster to his kiosk, taking no notice of the content and settles down to another dead-end day. The poster simply says, “Fire Guts Club“.

It’s purely unintentional (of that I’m sure) but, five years later, the world is about to see the release of ‘The Arm Wrestling Tournament’, the debut album of Guts Club. This is a lo-fi, anti-folk beast; armed just with a battered-sounding acoustic guitar, Lindsey Baker gives us an insight into her world. “I want to give you all my guts, I want you to have my intestines“, sings Lindsey in the opening verse of the album. It’s a skewed re-take of the fairy story, Rapunzel; a lovely, love song for those of us who have scant regard for the most cliched proponents of the genre.

 

 

Take it on face value and you’d probably find Lindsey’s vignettes a little creepy. Songs about keeping people tied up in the boots of cars will not be a choice cup of tea for many. ‘Old And Ugly’ begins as a proclamation of everlasting love (“I will always love you”) but then heads off on a warped tangent. Her lover leaves but the love doesn’t as the song heads into new haunts.

 

 

To take it on face value misses the playfulness and humour within. Like Courtney Barnett or Jeffrey Lewis, Guts Club takes a scenario and then twists our mind with child-like wordplay. The humour is dark but I defy you to not smile. The videos that have so far been released from ‘The Arm Wrestling Tournament’ amplify the approach. For ‘All Of The Babies’, grainy home videos of babies, lined up on a sofa, are contrasted with home drawn, cartooned borders. The effect is unsettling and delightfully distracting. I get Guts Club.

 

 

The man selling newspapers is still at his kiosk. He’s forgotten the headline from five years ago. He will never hear of Guts Club. It is his loss.

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