What’s so wrong with just a little fun?

Dagnabbit, another recording goes begging…

I think the time may have come for my venerable old iRiver to go and do the decent thing. Completely unilaterally (I swear) the cussed old bugger switched to its (frankly worthless) internal mic, rather than my wonderful skytronic stealth one. The results are just unlistenable.

(A hot bath and a Frankie Five Angels set of razor blades await…)

The Wild Beasts

Terrific evening at a gratifyingly packed Guildhall Friday night, with the Wild Beasts breezing into town. I’ve seen the Wild Beasts before, but they’ve grown a little bigger since then – Two Dancers getting a Mercury Nomination, I believe –  and there’s a general feeling that the new album, which I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet heard, is going to be The Big One.

I’d been rushing around all day and was actually later getting along than I like to be, so I missed most of the support band Summer Camp’s set. I’ve seen them before and I remember thinking at the time that there’s a good idea in there but it’s just not being done very well. I caught the last three songs, including their strongest song Ghost Train, but I still feel this is pretty much the case. The procession of people coming and going during their set tended to confirm this…

No matter because there was a general Hail Fellow Well Met feel to the evening, as I met a good few old friends and a few of my newer Twitter playmates for the first time, which was all good fun.

Soon enough the Wild Beasts came on to a huge reception and were modest and apparently genuinely surprised to see so many folk there. I’ve said before, I appreciate this; good manners cost nothing eh? The set was great, the new record being heavily featured of course, but there were a good few from Two Dancers and even Limbo Panto too. On balance I prefer their faster, funkier songs, and when they get their lumbering, galumphing rhythm on they are absolutely beguiling, but some of the newer slower songs are good listening too.

Unfortunately, as I’ve alluded to my ancient recording gear let me down, and I’m afraid The Wild Beasts @ the Guildhall is destined to be another great lost recording moment (joining some pretty illustrious company, really – Anthony & the Johnsons  Colston Hall, Gruff Rhys @ St Georges and Lee Perry, Colston hall again). All a little embarrassing as I’d said to more than one person that they could listen to the recordings afterwards. Ho hum.

I’ve had a root around, though, and found some recordings that I made back in October 2009 when I saw them at Thekla, before the release of Two Dancers I think, and they’re pretty good. Most of the songs featured on Friday (apart from Clairvoyants, one of my favourites) and are interesting listening for some early versions of some WB standards.

The Funpowder Plot

We Still Got the Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues

All the King’s Men

Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants

Please, Sir

This is our Lot

Hooting and Howling

Devil’s Crayon

Empty Nest

So maybe, if we all close our eyes, we can pretend this latest outbreak of cack-handedness never happened…

Don’t Break the heart that Needs You

Lord have mercy!

A very, very nice evening in Bristol last night…

I’ve been casting impatient looks up at a pair of Laura Cantrell tickets pinned to our notice board for a while now; but when it came to it, what with Easter, Royal Weddings and a raft of bank holidays and long weekends, the awaited day came on me suddenly. Aside from a hastily assembled mix tape for the journey down, I hadn’t really done any catching up or re-listening. But in the end, that all worked in my favour, and I came to the evening with no expectations or preconceptions.

St Bonaventure’s is a strange place – less a gig venue and more a community centre, with plastic chairs and upholstered arm chairs, and a tiny stage at little more than floor level. On the plus side, there were whole teams of friendly volunteers around the place (I counted eight behind the bar at one point…).

And Laura Cantrell blended into the friendly, unassuming environment as if she’d been playing there for weeks. With a couple of multi-skilled helpers (whose names escaped me, I’m afraid to say – they were excellent) on guitar, mandolin and Hawaiian guitar, she ran through a whole bunch of 16 songs and chatted easily between each one. Not The Tremblin’ Kind was well represented; there were three songs from the new Kitty Wells Dresses record and a couple of completely new songs. It was all delightful stuff- sung and performed with the skill, restraint and class her catalogue deserves. I beamed like a fool throughout…

My retirement age recording device did me proud and I’ve caught the whole lot. I’ll post a few highlights here, and a zipped file of the rest.

Don’t Break the Heart (live)

Nothing Came Easy but the Tears (live)

Churches off the Interstate (live)

Not the Tremblin’ Kind (live)

Laura Cantrell @ St Bonaventure’s, May ‘11

A trip to the Laura Cantrell website reveals an extraordinarily generous 19 (that’s nineteen) free tracks for download. She also mentioned a project she’s involved with called Radio Free Song Club where there are further downloads of new songs available.

A lovely evening…

Don’t Ever Die, ‘Cause I Love You Alive

(I annoy myself that I leave these things so long – been meaning to do this for ages…)

A good while ago I got one of those occasional (but welcome) emails, from a band offering me a copy of their CD in return for a bit of a plug. As you know, I lap this sort of thing up and bask in the light being a real Blogger for a while. I may have over-basked, shall we say…

Gintis are another band in this current wave of top Welsh acts who I actually featured way back when PP was still in short pants. The record, released last month, is called Idiot Guides and Plans, and is quite a pleasant set of lo-fi songs with some great highlights and a couple of tracks that are not really my sort of thing.

One of the reasons I left it so long before posting on this is that I’ve kind of blown hot and cold about the record at different times. In the end, however, I’ve been charmed and won over by the bemused “left behind by the modern world” figures they’ve cut. The songs are regretful acoustic affairs, occasionally embellished by the odd banjo, or sweeping organ sound, and often recast by the odd quirk here and there (I think I heard a Rolf-style wobble board at one point…)

I’m posting my two favourite tracks here but you can get the whole record from the generous (and patient) folk at Fresh Hair Records and also read a profile of the band here. You can also stream the whole record at Fresh Hair

Now I know

The Waltzer Song