October 25, 2014
Review by David Chiu
It’s been a topsy-turvy week for me because of other commitments in my life — so much so that I wasn’t able to soak in any of the CMJ shows that were happening throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. There was one exception, however, and that was catching the British band Ultimate Painting at Rough Trade NYC for a free daytime show. And judging by the performance that Saturday afternoon, I would say that 20-25-minute set more than made up for all the other CMJ events I missed.
Ultimate Painting consists of singer-guitarists-songwriters James Hoare and Jack Cooper from the bands Veronica Falls and Mazes respectively. The duo hit it off while they were on tour and began to work together for their own project, recording all the instruments themselves. The result of that collaboration is the band’s self-titled debut album, due out this Tuesday on Trouble in Mind Records, and it may be one of my favorite records of the year. The most obvious comparison to Ultimate Painting is the Velvet Underground for its minimalist guitar-oriented sound, but there is also a definite ’60s/Beatles influence thanks to the melodic songwriting and dual vocals. (Their American counterparts in musical spirit would be Parquet Courts, whom Ultimate Painting has also toured with)
Naturally, the brief set by the group drew on a majority of the music from the upcoming album such as the title song, “Jane,” “Winter In Your Heart,” “Three Piers” and the rocking “Talking Central Park Blues.” Accompanied by a bassist and drummer, Cooper and Hoare were dynamic as the two traded leaded vocals and harmonized; Hoare played some angular shimmering, and ringing guitar leads that recall such Sterling Morrison and Dean Wareham, while Cooper provided some aggressive rhythm guitar.
If you like a band that doesn’t showboat and just play straight-ahead melodic indie rock without the BS, then Ultimate Painting is that group.
Stream Ultimate Painting’s “Ten Street” below: