IT’S A STAPLE of Hollywood: unknown underdog bests Goliath, or at least gives it such a good go you cheer all the more. But in music, can a self-funded, self-produced album hold its own with big-name bands, celebrity producers and prestigious labels?

A new release from young(ish) New Jersey quartet The Ashes suggests there’s no reason why not.

Technically respectable, The Ashes Sing! has the playfulness of a Jonathon Richman album (yes, with the Velvet Underground leanings that implies). Accented by piano, clarinet, banjo, violin, tuba, cello, trombone… it is lively and constantly interesting.

“I don’t expect a record label to come begging,” lead Ashe Shane told tincanland. “We were just trying to make an album that explored the music we love. Like a Beatles type album where the songs are all kind of doing their own thing. So like, the dixieland, the kind of django style jazz, the rock and roll, the folk and americana.”

Is it worth a listen? Yes. Is it worth buying? Sure. Will it make money)? Probably not.

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