Anticipating the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death on February 3, I’ve been reading the Holly biography Rave On by Philip Norman. With those glasses on, it has become so clear to me that Holly has left his imprint on the rock ‘n’ roll all around us.
If you wanted to find a comparison within the current music scene, you could put Army Navy on the line next to White Rabbits, both brandishing a jangly guitar-led sound that engages the British Invasion.
If you step back into the 80’s, you would see Army Navy adopting the typical band format that used to rail against the onslaught of disco. “My Thin Sides” comes on strong with a Johnny Marr guitar. Justin Kennedy’s voice is somewhere around Ian Brown’s (Stone Roses) although maybe more like the non-descript 80’s Britrock bands (the Railway Children, for instance) where the voice is comforting and enveloping.
But really you can take it all the way back to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Army Navy play bright, sunshine pop matched with intense emotions and guitar. Those stops along the way to compare them to White Rabbits, the Smiths, the Stone Roses, and the Railway Children were merely references within works that referenced something older, more fundamental, going back to the source. All of that jangly guitar, light tough on heavy rhythms, deeply-felt bubblegum emotions, and the idea that rock ‘n’ roll can really change the world. When you get back to that in Army Navy, then you find Buddy Holly standing there, nodding in agreement, inviting you to come along on this great rhythm train.