Thought I’d drop a few lines about a couple of artists whose records I’m really enjoying these days and whom you may, if you’re lucky, hear drifting from the window of a tiny Nissan Micra scampering around the Gloucestershire countryside this summer. If you’ve got your ear to the ground you’ll no doubt be well acquainted with these fellers, but if not, well, you’re welcome.
Kevin Morby / The Babies
Up until last year or so, Kevin Morby’s dayjob was to play bass in Jeremy Earls’ wonderful, technicolour Woods, another of my very favourite bands. I didn’t realise this at first when I originally picked up on Morby’s sparkling solo records, so when the penny eventually dropped, it made me look at the Woods records he was involved with (four, I think, up until Bend Beyond in 2012) in something of a new way. An embarrassment of riches for sure – think Jimmy Page playing bass with the Yardbirds, or maybe Petr Cech on the bench at Chelsea.
I’ve seen Woods a couple of times, and on both occasions they were superb. Morby had already left by the time Woods took the show at Psychfest last year, but the first time I saw them at End of the Road in 2012, I remember thinking that this was a band bursting with ideas and individuals. I’m rarely that prescient but within a year Morby had made the move across the city to Arsenal (if I’m going to try to maintain the dodgy bassist-as-reserve-goalkeeper metaphor) and was working on his own songs. By the time of End of the Road, he’d already formed the Babies with Cassie Ramone from the Vivian Girls and released a self-titled album, with another, Our House on the Hill, to come out later that year.
There are now two Kevin Morby solo records, Harlem River and Still Life, both of which are really excellent, jam-packed with emotive, unhurried strokes of some genius, and if you include the second Babies record, which sounds a lot more like a Morby record than the first, you’ve got quite a rich seam of music to pick at. All of this came out within two years’ pretty frantic creative activity – (Still Life was apparently completely written whilst touring with the Babies), the very purplest of patches
Here’s a rather fine KEXP session from the Babies:
It took me a couple of listens to get used to Morby’s Dylan-ish drawl but actually now I really like it. He has a knack of writing really insistent melodies that impress his ideas upon you. I’m a great one for imposing my own thoughts and issues on other people’s songs, mostly inappropriately and in the most superficial of ways, but I remember, at a time when my daughter was leaving for six months for America, becoming quite fixated with “Wild Side (Oh the places you’ll go)”. I think if you can do that sort of thing to your audience, you’re clearly hitting the mark.
Oh go on.
Here’s some more from one of those rather distinctive Blogothèque Take Away shows…
I have a ticket to see Kevin Morby at the Lousiana in Bristol in September, and I’m rather looking forward to it…
Ah now, I’ve gone on too much I feel, I’ll come back to the second of my car-stereo recommendations tomorrow. You know I’m good for it…