Lacking an photo of Parish Music Box, I assumed, as is the norm in these situations, that the band are a group of pasty young turks. After a few listens to their debut album, 'Paradise is Pocket Sized', they seemed remarkably assured and polished for an unknown band. Then all was explained at the Bedford, a truncated gig to launch the album, when a gaggle of greying geezers took to the stage.

I have no idea of their past, whether they are music journey men or fortysomethings who, after three decades of bedroom practice, have finally ventured onto record and stage. Whichever, the results are engaging, occasionally derivative; though always knowingly.

Parish Music Box were, in case you missed it over your espresso and biscotti, Caffe Nero’s ‘band of the month’ for May. This meant daily appearances in the company’s branches around London and the fact that they were deemed suitable for this gig, says something about the band, being at the easy listening end of the alt-country continuum.

Lead singer Andy Knapp is something of a crooner, mixed with a dash of Morrissey (obviously an influence, 'Meat is Murder' is mentioned on the album opener 'Booby-Trapped Bouquet') and, both live and on the CD, has a powerful, surging voice. He and co-song writer Clive McDaid have put together a series of mature, intelligent songs that obviously reflect the fact they have been round the block a few times.

The extensive band, two guitars, keyboard, occasionally double bass, are slick and provide a perfect environment for Knapp’s lush singing. The album rarely changes gear and the worst thing you could say about it is that it would make perfect dinner party music, no rushing over to skip that raucous track.

'Petrocelli', a paean to the 70's TV legal series is a perfect case in point. Ambling along, it is easy to zone out and have to play it again and force yourself to listen. 'All Ways' reminds me of a Morrissey song, I just can’t remember which one and all my CDs are in boxes at the moment. 'Silent For The Last Time', we are informed at the gig, is based on the real arguments McDaid had with his ex-wife, a subject matter no teenaged band could muster. It is the highlight of both album and concert, more lively and heartfelt in its authenticity.

'Paradise is Pocket Sized' is full of smooth melodic, country tinged, songs with knowing mature lyrics. This is going to be far to middle-of-the-road for many people but perhaps will hit a nerve with those of certain age.

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Commenting On: Bedford, London, 30/6/2009 - Parish Music Box

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18512 Posted By: Fiona (London)

Whilst I am biased as a long term fan of thses guys, I think you are spot on. Gene Pitney meets Mozza and all the better for it....great band, getting a lot of press lately.

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