He was swimming for an island but he never reached dry land

It’s been a week or more…

School has started again and it just takes over my life. Hard to fit other things in, really.

Anyway, last weekend I went to my friend Richard’s Double Yang Festival, or rather I went to the second half of it, having missed most of the day, getting ready for work.

It was a pretty mixed bag of acts, which was immediately apparent as soon as we walked in to see to fellers honking away on saxophones in a manner that can only be described as “left field”. It was pretty wild.

During the course of the evening I heard sets from Rose Kemp, who was better than last time I saw her, and James Blackshaw, who was kind of OK, and definitely quite brilliant, but also [whispers] a bit boring…

Alasdair Roberts

The last person onstage, though, was Alasdair Roberts, and again my prejudices about singer songwriters were shot to pieces. He played what I heard described as “real folk”, none of this alt/neo folktronica stuff, that has become quite trendy. He sang traditional songs about birds and lassies and, well, old stuff. He was hardcore, he bristled with authenticity, and I have to say he was well impressive.

At times his direct, gritty approach to his material reminded me of Will Oldham and, bingo, as soon as you do some research on Roberts, you come across the fact that one of the many people he has collaborated with over the years is in fact the loose-limbed, prodigiously-bearded Prince himself. (Jason Molina is another).

(You’ll have to believe me, I’m not being clever, I did actually say that at the time. In front of witnesses…)

Anyway, I found myself wishing I’d made more of an effort to see him at Green Man this year, but this video taken at the Palimpsest Festival gives a good idea of what he was like:

[Credit to ShakeyJake]

Very few legally available mp3s from Roberts I’m afraid, and this one from his own site, is a track recorded with his side-project Appendix Out, which seems to be a bit different from his solo stuff, but still worth hearing, I’d say.

Drinking Milk Again

You know you know the answer

Have had this teed up for some time now, but couldn’t get round to teasing out some appropriately elegant prose to accompany it… Aw hell, here it is anyway.

Gilbert

Within minutes of getting our tent up at Green Man, my son and I took a look at the very first band on, the unpromisingly named Gilbert. At the time I remember thinking they were pretty good, but, hold on, I thought, it’s early days, you’re just getting over-excited. So I took one recording, to check my levels as much as anything, and moved on, generally keeping my powder dry.

Well, anyway, back at home, school started again and summer well and truly over, I went through all the bits and bobs of recordings, and found that whilst the Fridge and Battles recordings were really ropey (the performances weren’t all that either), this recording by Gilbert is surprisingly listenable.

Gilbert is a chap from East London I believe, who creates these kind of washes of sound that lay you back nicely, and punctuates them with David Byrne-esq monologues over the top of them. It’s all rather pleasant, and at times jolly good fun. Onstage he beefs himself up with a number of other musicians and generally creates a good time.

I’ve got the recording here, which is kind of OK, although, all these recordings are not as good as I originally thought they were (I re-listened to some of the Broken Family Band set , this morning, and it’s pretty bucket-y. I’ll get better at this…); but really I’d get along to their Myspace, which unfortunately doesn’t have any downloads but lets you stream four tracks, including the wonderful “Self Help for the English”

Tarantara!

Animal Vegetable Mineral

Now bugger off and let me watch the rugby…