Album Reviews / Interviews
What We've All Been Waiting For
- Album Review by Vive Le Rock
Album four from the Richmond garage-mod mainstays.
A decade-plus now of working the more discerning corners of the bar venue circuit, powered by a seemingly unshakeable faith in their 'Minimum R&B' philosophy, the Fallen Leaves stay true to their ethos for this, their fourth album. While the years have seen a few line-up changes, the core duo of ex-Subway Sect types Rob Green and Rob Symmons continue to steer the ship, purveying their particular strain of garage punk, all performed with a quaintly gentlemanly air and the cultish ritual of on-stage tea drinking. Ten cuts, no covers, of unembellished bar-band rock 'n' roll, all performed with an impeccable knife-edge to the dog-tooth slacks, and a respectful tip of the hat to the early Who. The Fallen Leaves continue to tear it up; an enduring beacon of uncluttered basement club authenticity.
Punk Rock For Gentlemen
- Album Review by Mojo
Vinyl vindication for London garage rock masters.
Three albums into their career as standard bearers for a particularly British brand of guitar music - at that fine spot where The Pretty Things meet Pretty Vacant, over a decent cup of tea - The Fallen Leaves have taken 12 songs from those CDs for this vinyl LP collection of their self-styled 'Minimum R&B'. Vocalist Rob Green and long-time compadre Rob Symmons, superb original guitarist with the Subway Sect, formed the band in 2004, and have co-written all the material. These finely-crafted songs are sharp and direct with a minimum of overdubs, yet the band also know the value of well-placed backing vocals. After all this staccato activity, each side closes with a longer track (Shining and Trouble, respectively) in which they stretch out to great effect, mirroring the force of their live shows. An excellent showcase of the band at their best.
Punk Rock For Gentlemen
- Album Review by Uncut
Fiercely minimalist garage rock from London gang.
'Minimum R&B' they call it, this pared-back, essentials-only take on rock'n'roll that The Fallen Leaves have been pursuing and honing for a decade now. It helps that they've got it in their blood - their guitarist is Rob Symmons, from the first lineup of Subway Sect, the idealogical standard bearers for what could and should have become. If Punk Rock For Gentlemen proves anything, it's that Symmons has still got it - there's a subtle art to the way he spools out clipped, ringing solos and chiming, vibrant strands of rhythm guitar.
Symmons and vocalist Rob Green are the core of the group, writing the songs and keeping the vision streamlined: other players have come and gone, including for a time Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols, and Phil King of (among others) The Jesus & Mary Chain, Felt and Lush. Cherry-picking from their four albums and various singles, Punk Rock For Gentlement is an object lesson in making the most of minimalism: there's nary a stray note, the melodies are finely tuned, the playing in the pocket, weaving together R'n'B, garage rock and distant memories of Northern Soul. And it's on vinyl, as it should be.
Rakish exponents of rock'n'roll on why less-is-more
- Uncut Magazine Interview
"It's a nod to The Who when they were great," Rob Symmons says, reflecting on his group The Fallen Leaves' 'minimum R&B' motto, "all crazy pent-up energy and individualism. They lost it later, it all got complicated and over the top. We want to bring it back to the minimum, less really is more."
If you're looking for an ethos for this decade-strong outfit, circling around the duo of Symmons and Rob Green, 'less really is more' nails it nicely. But there's an intensive focus to their playing and writin, too: they may argue against linear development - when I ask Symmons about his great guitar playing, he argues, "It hasn't developed at all. I don't consider myself a 'guitarist'" - but the Punk Rock For Gentlemen compilation suggests the ongoing honing of a vision, one grounded in the "sharp, stinging, ringing cut-through on '50s and '60s singles."
You could trace that back, too, to Symmons' time in the first lineup of Subway Sect. "We had it right from the start, like Buddy Holly," he smiles. "You don't need any more than guitar, bass, drums, élan and panache. As I wrote in 'Don't Split It', 'learn to unlearn' and I've never changed."
If only we'd known
- Album Review
There’s no mess, no waste, no filler, all killer.
No lapses or indulgences just top quality one-take rock’n’roll or Beat Pop or punk rock.
For once the Sixties influence comes not from the over-rated Beatles but the Troggs, the Pretty Things and the Who and all manner of obscure acts circa 1967
If only we'd known
- Album Review 2
The album’s opening slice of freneticism, “Against The Grain”, steals its title from the English version of Joris-Karl Huysmans’ 19th century study of decadence - “A Rebours”. The track is a scintillating piledriver that underpins the confidence of the band.
That's Right - Album Review
If you want half-an-hour of expertly crafted riffs & jangles, backed by a tight, pounding rhythm section, check this out. Its a generally fast & urgent ride, driven hard by Rob Symmons' wondrous guitar playing. The album abounds with sharp & clever arrangements & riffs, showing that yer trad beat group can still master a variety of sounds & textures.
Westgarth Social Club, Middlesborough
- Gig Review
The Fallen Leaves are brilliant. They get better and better. It’s all helped by the superb sound. It really is good and makes you wonder why, if someone can get a PA to sound this good in a tiny room that probably holds 100 people max, big venues with big budgets so often get it wrong.
The Fallen Leaves have a new album out. ‘What We’ve all Been Waiting For’ isn’t officially released until later in the month but it’s for sale tonight and we’re treated to some songs from it. 'Prodigal Son', 'Lavender Girl', 'Motorcycle Girl' slot in perfectly alongside favourites such as ‘Trouble’ and ‘My Phantoms’. “Simple songs for complex people”. I’m not sure these songs are simple. They’re tight, tuneful, foot tappingly catchy, loud, danceable, sing alongable, jangly garage punk songs. Rob Green’s unique voice complements Rob Symmons infectious guitar playing. Symmons really does give his Telecaster hell. Matthew Karas on bass and Buddy Ascott on drums provide a tight, infectious backdrop to the vocals and guitar. Whilst acknowledging the influence of early Who and bands such as the Ramones it’s fair to say that The Fallen Leaves are unique. The Fallen Leaves sound like The Fallen Leaves.
At 50 minutes it’s a short set. But it’s a great set. Promoter Dave Griffiths said later that The Fallen Leaves reckoned it was the best they’d ever played. Imagine just how good that actually is.
Next up were The Fallen Leaves and as I am a regular at their “Minimum R’n’B” club nights at the 12 Bar (on the first Wednesday of every month for your information…) I am used to seeing the band crammed onto that venue’s tiny stage. The stage at the 229 however is massive, so it was nice to see the band afforded some space and this suited them down to the ground, giving front-man Rob Green the chance to show off his full repertoire of tricks. Rob is a proper singer, and with his vintage microphone he’s a crooner in the grand old tradition which contrasts perfectly with the visceral attack of Guitarist Rob Symmons instinctive, primal playing style.
12 Bar Club, London
- Gig Review
There's been a real buzz of positivity around The Fallen Leaves recently, what with their sessions with Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music and on Resonance FM and a glowing review in the Sunday Times by comedian Stewart Lee for their latest album "If Only We'd Known". They just keep on getting better gig by gig, and more people seem to be turning up to the 12 Bar each time they play. Rob Symmons seems to be intent on wreaking as much damage to his guitar as possible without actually smashing it on the stage. Banging it and shaking it to get optimum power, he twists the strings to breaking point, spilling out classic Garage Rock riffs to songs such as "Passing By" and "Trouble".