The General Store
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The General Store

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"Powerpopaholic album review"

"It's been a long time since we heard Tam Johnstone, aka The General Store. In 2002, the album "Local Honey" was a nice Brydsian slice of west coast pop. It took over four years to get to "Mountain Rescue" - but it sure as hell is worth the wait. The growth and maturity is evident in this new album and with help from a host of guest musicians it's the most intricately crafted pop album I've heard all year. Starting out the gate with "Early Morning Fuzz," it evokes "Harvest Era" Neil Young, The Byrds, Curt Boechetter and Elton John. The next track,"Come Around" really gets The Eagles, Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y vibe perfect, as it could have fallen off of "Deja Vu." The remaining tracks here start to allow Beach Boys influence to creep in. "Mountain Side" is the best Carl Wilson track he never made, with a slow slide guitar driving the melody and it's simply gorgeous. A more overt Brian Wilson, Wondermints-type slow ballad, "Girls From The Mall" is similar in tone and approach to "The Warmth of The Sun." The lyric here is the kicker, as the "bleak panorama of suicide" hovers over the scene. "Desert Weathered Highway" is another country flavored tune with catchy beat and it's classic Eagles-styled pop. For you Beach Boys fans, "Nothing Can Come Between Us" is an opus that would fit perfectly on "Smile" and it will give you goosebumps on first listen.Every song here is a winner, as I could ramble about on and on about each one, but I'll stop here. Easy pick for the Top Ten Album of 2008. Don't miss it." - Powerpopaholic

"Pop Culture Press album review"

"When the General Store swing into their “out on the 405” chorus on the beguiling “Come Around,” you will do a double take, thinking this is certainly a long-lost Neil Young outtake, circa Gold Rush or Harvest. As strong as that cut is – and it is a monster of full-blooded guitar-and-harmony rock glory – the band, led by singer/writer Tam Johnstone, son of Davey Johnstone (of Elton John’s band) from his vital contributions to the Orgone Box and Green Tambourines, but this group may be even more impressive. Mountain Rescue is album #2, following Local Honey, a 2003 effort on Not Lame, and gets help from Mojave 3’s Nick Zola and renowned producer Paul Reeve. Plenty of West Coast touchtones – Beach Boys, Byrds, Crazy Horse – inform the band’s approach, but Johnstone’s writing transcends. “Desert Weathered Hiway” rides weeping pedal steel straight into a shuffling, classic country chorus, something like Poco might have come up with in their prime, while “The Point” (think Dillard & Clark meets the Rubinoos!) and “Over Here” brim with energy and pop smarts. Highly recommended." - Pop Culture Press

"Cornish Guardian album review"

"It's no surprise that St Merryn's Tam Johnstone's first words were "tape recorder" - the son of musician Davey (Elton John's guitarist since 1972) and singer Diana he has grown up on and in music. George Martin's Air Studios employed the teenage Tam who later drummed for a succession of pure pop outfits including cult act Green Tambourines and Warner Bros signings Jaguar. Most famous for leading electro-rockers Glass Shark, he now unleashes a completely different musical project. Those used to his new wave skinny tie crazed drumming and vocals for the Shark will be left open-mouthed by Mountain Rescue, the new album by his other band The General Store. This is a gorgeous, plaintive (listen to the steel guitars, those harmonies!) collection of songs that will take you from the South West of England to the West Coast of America. This is an album (it's already available on iTunes) in homage to some of Tam's favourite music - The Beach Boys (just listen to the frankly mind-altering beauty of the vocals on Girls From The Mall), Neil Young (Come Around could be some hidden gem from the After The Goldrush sessions) and Elton John (there is a definite nod to albums like Madman Across The Water). But make no mistake this is no tribute - Tam has fashioned a wonderful collection of original songs from the affecting (Mountain Side) to the rollocking (The Point - The Stranglers gone country, anyone?). Tam started recording the album with internationally-renowned Bodmin-based producer Paul Reeve (Muse, Supergrass, Beta Band) in 2003 - the delay of its release has largely been down to the burgeoning success of Glass Shark. Tam said: "The plan from the start was to make an album like they used to - on tape with natural performances and not too much jiggery pokery. Every sound was to pass through Airfield's Amek desk, previously owned by Pink Floyd. We were already off to a good start. "All the old studio tricks were deployed - Leslie speakers, tac pianos, harmoniums, vocal spreads. We really were trying to make a record that doffed a cap to those classic albums of the early 1970s." And, boy, has he succeeded. If you didn't know better you'd expect this to have been made by some new cool Ryan Adams-alike American wonder kid. Indeed Rolling Stone has already said of The General Store: "Very highly recommended" while Uncut has called Tam's songs "inspired". The influential Popmatters website labelled it "the best West Coast pop album in decades". The album, which was mastered in LA in 2005, also features a host of impressive guest musicians including songwriter Mike Silver, pedal steel player Nick Zala (Mojave 3) and guitarist Jo Partridge (The Who, Steve Harley). So if you're a fan of the naïve yet otherworldly sounds of those early 70s guys, the spectral sounds of Super Furry Animals and the Flaming Lips or you simply love music I implore you to pick up a copy of Mountain Rescue. The General Store play their first ever gig on Saturday at the St Agnes Hotel. One not to miss." - Cornish Guardian


'Local Honey' CD/download (Not Lame, 2001)
'Mountain Rescue' CD/download (Brewery, 2008)



With Elton John’s guitarist as a dad and a teenage work experience stint at George Martin’s Air Studios, you could argue that Tam Johnstone, AKA The General Store, was more well-connected than many struggling musical outfits. All the more gratifying, then, that his debut album as The General Store is the sort of thing that would cause ears to prick up even without the impressive bio attached. Audibly influenced by a variety of North American chroniclers of the male psyche - Jim White, Neil Young and Brian Wilson. Get past the fact that a Londoner is singing about pick-ups, desert highways and El Paso (the town, not the fajita kit manufacturers) and you’ll dig.
Album review by Anna Britten/Venue magazine