When all is said and all is done, you always were the only one, who understood the way this song, is sung

There’s been a bit of feedback on this year’s Green Man, some of it here (a lot more of it elsewhere) and for all the good stuff I saw this year, the band that are getting all the plaudits I missed altogether…

Megafaun

… which is weird, really, because now I come to listen to them, this is a band who are almost PP-by-numbers. Anyone who’s spent anytime on any of the 263 posts over the four and a half years I’ve been plugging away will know that there are certain key words that ring bells and feature regularly. “Banjos”, “beards” and “pedal steel guitars” are a few prominent ones (“cack-handed” might be another…).

As I listen to “Volunteers” from the new record “Heretofore”, due to be released next week, I find myself scratching my head in some bewilderment. How the hell did I miss this? It’s perfect!

“Sunlight silhouette, dogwood trees

Swaying all alone in the Caroline breeze.

I ask for your hand you ask for “please”

Tell me now, girl, this the way it’s gonna be?”

It sounds like it might have been lifted straight out of The Greatest Record Ever, doesn’t it?. It’s a beautiful song about two people at a crossroads, as cleverly phrased as any I can think of right now and lovingly framed in sloppy country guitar-picking and slide.  It’s Hardcore Americana.

Some hasty research reveals that there are two other records available (downloading as I speak…), and this is the third in as many years. The last record, Gather, Form & Fly, collected some fine reviews from the likes of Mojo and Rolling Stone and an impressive 8.1 from the niggardly misers at Pitchfork.

Here’s a couple of clips of the band performing songs that are on the new release:

Really kicking myself I missed them at Green Man…

Volunteers is available as a download from Hometapes Records, (and it looks like they have some other good artists there too), or you can take it here:

Volunteers – Megafaun

It’s a doozer!

Wish I was made out of steel, with no legs just wheels

I’ve been given this album by Sweet Baboo by the fine gentlemen of Shape Records, based in Cardiff. I say “I’ve been given” in a This Just In sort of a way, but actually I was sent it two or three weeks ago and I’m afraid I have dragged my heels a little. In fact, with a little more awareness and a little less lethargy I could have written a post to coincide with the official release of the record.

[sighs]

Sweet Baboo

Actually you might be tempted to read into my sluggishness a luke-warm response to “I’m a Dancer / Songs about Sleeping” but fact is I’ve pretty much played it to death over these weeks. It’s a great little record.

Sweet Baboo is actually Stephen Black from North Wales, who’s played with Euros Childs, Richard James, Islets and Cate le Bon – all favourites of these pages – and co-produced the Son of Euros record that was released last year. Apparently there are a couple of other releases (self releases, rather) but this is his biggest record so far. I’ve not seen him play yet, although I now rather regret a couple of near misses in the last year or so (an Acoustica and this year’s Green Man)

He’s a quirky dresser and writer, chronically self-conscious, with an obsession with body parts and a sense of his own awkwardness, which all comes out in songs like “Y’r Lungs, “Three Thumbs” and “Wish I was Made Out of Steel”. I like a bit of vulnerability in a writer, mind, and there’s nothing maudlin or irritating about all this misery. Quite the reverse really, his gawkiness is actually quite charming and very listenable.

He strums alone, often, although sometimes with minimal support from a few trusty aides, and sings in a sometimes broken, sometimes stutteringly hesitant voice. Occasionally, however, he is joined belatedly by his band, always to good effect and with some sensitivity. A lovely package altogether.

Favourite tracks are either of the versions of I’m a Dancer and Baby Let Me Let You Sleep, but really there’s not a weak song on the record. You can buy one of 300 limited edition vinyl copies or download it from Shape, or eMusic.

I’m a Dancer

Wish I was Made of Steel

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you…

Just a little sweep up of the last of my Green Man recordings…

Richard James, leading his band Pen Pastwyn through a few songs played as a backdrop to some “experimental” video montages:

The wonderful Darwin Deez, putting a smile on everyone’s face, with their between song dance routines:

And the incomparable Gentleman’s Dub Club – a bit rowdie (and therefore wobbly), this one:

And then, I have a few miscellaneous Green Man recordings that I’ve put together into a Green Man Lucky Seven:

[something wild] – Islet

Ghost Train – Summer Camp

La Ritournelle – The Balearic Folk Orchestra (ft. Lou Rhodes)

High Grade – Gentleman’s Dub Club

Breathe – An Horse

A Beggar’s Land – Coco’s Lovers

Dead Disco Dancer – O Children

That’s it –  I don’t think the world needs any more Green Man stuff.

I thank you…