Half past the day, making hay

0500b619I despair, honestly. How did I miss this?

Cate le Bon and Tim Presley have a joint project out, Drinks. I saw them at Green Man this year (and to be honest they weren’t all that…) but I think it was strictly a White Fence affair (I’ll have to check the recording). Apparently, they were Drinks at End of the Road, though. Here’s their first single (the title single) from the Hermits on Holiday album (the video apparently features Presley’s parents):

 

There’s even a second release, “Laying Down Rock”, although it doesn’t seem to have much of a video…

Here they are, though, performing it (and a few other things), in Paris:

 

* drums fingers impatiently, waiting for downloads to refresh…

Clean and sharp and always laughing

IMG_1029Not long ago, I claimed, in slightly half-arsed fashion, that the Beck record was my favourite release of 2014. This was a mistake – it’s not; White Fence’s For the Recently Found Innocent is most certainly my favourite record of last year. I know this because this is what I plumped for in the @lpgrp poll (although I suspect Morning Phase may still take the spoils in the hipsters’ vote).

In my defence, this administrative oversight would indeed have been avoided if I’d actually bought the darn thing at the time of that post. I hadn’t, I only got round to buying it when the prospect of the mighty Tim Presley and band arriving in Bristol becoming imminent.

Since then, however, I’ve been overdosing stupidly on it.

White Fence

When I sounded out my Gloucester pals about this gig, I couldn’t really get anyone interested, but decided, somewhat awkwardly, that I’d go anyway. Everyone else’s loss and all that…

But anyway, I began the process of immersing myself lavishly in the shimmering, warped world of White Fence, my ticket winking cheekily at me from the noticeboard, and by the time I rolled up at the Fleece for an evening of fun, fellowship and fuzztone, I was really very excited. My first gig of the year. (In the end, I needn’t have been so self-conscious about flying solo, as there were people there that I knew and the scene was set.)

A friend had previously tipped me off about support band, Ultimate Painting, so I knew they’d be good. And indeed they really were. I won’t write anything about them here because I’ll do a separate post about them later (no really. I will…).

At about 9:15, White Fence trooped on, their numbers augmented by the welcome figure of psyche/goth minstrel Cate le Bon, playing second guitar and adding a few vocals. In truth, I didn’t think she added all that much to the proceedings, and looked a little ill at ease for much of the evening, her own brand of cagey melancholy not really suited to the raucous psychedelia of Tim Presley. There didn’t seem to be much room for her amidst the ensuing mayhem…

The rest of the band were well up for it, though, and streamed aggressively through an hour and a half set which just shot by. They tossed off more than twenty numbers in that time with a dynamism and general oomph that was thrilling to watch. I really like the way Presley wears his guitar high-slung and the easy way he skids through his guitar breaks, with all the writhing energy of Paul Weller in a hurry. I’m also pretty fond of Presley’s voice, although I’ve heard people say they think it’s pretty so-so. He ranges from a vintage garage punk whine to a cool Ray Davies-style detachment, with one or two other stops in between.

And while we’re at it, I also love the sharp, freakbeat riffs he gets from those strings – again and again I found myself reminded of the Who or the Pretty Things as he slashed his way into another song. Wonderful stuff altogether.

Here’s a clip on YouTube of the set opener, Chairs in the Dark, taken by a feller (?), called Knapperstino who must’ve been stood just to my right and whose videos I seem to have linked to before.

 

As I said the set included 20 songs, 19 of which were around the 3-4 minute mark, but a monstrous version of Baxter Corner weighed in at around 11 minutes and showed that Presley’s time served in the Mark E Smith bootcamp was time well-spent (I can almost hear MES snarling “It’s not repetition, it’s discipline!” as I type…)

The recordings have come out quite well (the Fleece is always good for this…) and give quite a decent flavour of what was a boisterous, cracking night altogether.

Baxter Corner

Arrow Man

Like That

By the time I’ve got this post up, White Fence have already disappeared from these shores and are no doubt thrilling crowds of Dutch or Belgian punters.

You’re coming back, though, aren’t you, chaps?

Seven Great Records of 2012

Bobby_MooreI have loafed about this Christmas – reading, drinking, watching films and generally living the life, which has been great, but now I find myself with just a few hours in which to throw this together…

To be honest, it feels like I’ve already done this once already having been asked to nominate five 2012 records for the January Lpgrp session. I managed it with some difficulty (particularly as my Lpgrp line manager made me nominate one to be the best of them all – wild stab…), so seven should be a piece of (Christmas) pudding, eh?

Well, no. Partly because it means I’m only allowed to add two more, and partly because I change my mind as frequently as night follows day. (In fact, I can’t actually remember which one of my five was the top-rater… Just as well…)

Should give a few honourable mentions to records I really liked but didn’t quite make the cut – today’s cut at least… Really liked the best bits of the TOY record, the poppier efforts from Django Django and Alt J, the garage/psych labours of Goat, Pond and the Allah-Las and that hefty ska record from Prince Fatty and Mutant Hi-Fi. Coming up on the rails, Clear Moon by MountEerie has also grown on me an awful lot…

Anyway, here, in no particular order, my Lucky Seven for 2012

 

Bend Beyond – Woods

A real sixties-fest, this, bubblegum-ish vocals, garagey guitars and woozy, effect-laden keyboards. The album’s full of great pop songs and on stage, Woods showed a heartening willingness to “wig out” when given the chance. Great record and great live.

 

 

The Marble Downs – Trembling Bells with Bonny “Prince” Billy

Was loving this album, heaps and heaps, even before their brilliant stop off in Cheltenham… Lots of humour, a fair amount of pathos and a fascinating clash of British and American folk traditions – brass bands wrestling Americana stylings to the ground, even down to the derby/darby pronunciation clash in Ferrari in a Demolition Derby

 

 

Plumb – Field Music

Thrilled to bits to see the fabulous Brewis Boys getting a Mercury nomination, and had even begun to think they might sneak off with the prize themselves (a tad over-optimistic, I know). Still a sparkling record, chaotic, complex, fidgety and damn clever. Somebody on Twitter described Plumb as being like seeing Funkadelic covering the King Crimson back catalogue… [This is a great clip…]

 

 

Young Man in America – Anaïs Mitchell

Another fine record, massively augmented by a couple of very memorable live performances. I can’t remember if this got my Top Vote for lpgrp, but it may well have, and I’ve certainly bought this for a friend this Christmas claiming it‘s the one record of the year he should listen to. Haunting, intelligent and at times crushingly bitter. A magnificent piece of work…

 

 

Lions’ Roar – First Aid Kit

Another glimmering country gem, only this time cooked up on the wild plains of Sweden. Saw First Aid Kit at Green Man a couple of years ago and they were pretty good. One for the future, I remember thinking. I didn’t anticipate a record as strong and as fully formed as this coming out as soon as it has, though. Probably the standout track is “Emmylou” but, again, this is another collection remarkable for a whole range of very strong songs throughout.

 

 

CYRK – Cate Le Bon

Seem to have written quite a lot about Cate Le Bon over the last month or so, most of it incidental, and a slightly luke warm performance at Green Man took the sheen of this for a while. But a couple of days reacquainting myself with this gawky fizzer of a record reminded me what a cracking piece it is. Anyone know who the drummer is on this clip? (I don’t want to know…)

 

 

The Echo Show – Yeti Lane

Haven’t seen this show up on any one else’s lists, but I absolutely love it. Another band who impressed themselves upon me at End of the Road, with a graceful and stylish set on the last night, none of which was lost in this their second record, their first as a duo. Smooth, experimental and somehow very French, it reminded me of Air or Stereolab, but with a bit more oomph and a dash more geekiness.

 

 

There it is, then. Probably should’ve found space for the Gravenhurst record, and probably should’ve listened harder to the new Grizzly Bear and Tame Impala ones, but, hey! Whaddya gonna do, eh?

It’s the curl in his hair and his falcon-eyed stare…

End of the Road next week… better get on with these…

Welsh Revival?

Still got a bunch more recordings from Green Man to share with you, and for this post I’ll make them all artists from the Principality itself.

If you were to count Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci as the first wave of new Welsh bands (probably a bit spurious I know…), then there’s definitely a second wave of great, new music coming out of Wales these days. And with not a single Super Furry Animal, and scarcely a Zygotic Mynci on the GM bill this year, you could say it was definitely time for the young pups to step up.

(To be honest, I’d’ve got this post up a couple days earlier, if hadn’t been labouring with some tired old analogy about passing the baton on to the next generation – damn those Olympics!)

H Hawkline was the first act of the whole festival; four o’clock on the Thursday is probably not the best slot of all. But he was fine, warbling and thrumming away, backed ably by Cate le Bon on guitar and Sweet Baboo on bass. He was pretty good and I enjoyed his set, sprinkled with new material as it was.

Broken Fingers – H Hawkline

Ghouls – H Hawkline

Cate le Bon’s set was last thing on the Saturday night in the WalledGarden, a good spot, although it was dampened a little by the rain. Hawkline played guitar and keyboards, Sweet Baboo bass again. (Sweet Baboo actually had his own spot on the Sunday, which unfortunately I missed, but I’d imagine there might’ve been a couple of familiar faces on stage with him. Thank God the drummer didn’t have his own band…)

Cate le Bon’s got increasingly gothic in the last couple of years, with more and more of the Nico in her, and her set was really quite dark in places. Again there was a lot of new material from her excellent Cyrk record.

Fold the Cloth – Cate le Bon

Falcon Eyed – Cate le Bon

Another early set I saw was by a youthful Sen Segur, who were really good value, mining a quirky, psychedelic vein that seems to have a pretty rich seam in these parts. They were great, I really liked them, and whereas Hawkline and Cate le Bon did pretty much what I expected, Sen Segur were a genuine revelation and I shall enjoy looking out for their records

Cyfroeth Gwlyb – Sen Segur

The last recording is from the only member of the Gorky/SFA axis to appear at Green Man this year. Richard James’ new project, Pen Pastwn, played to a back drop of indie films last year, but seem now to be moving into the direction of literature and poetry, getting involved in the In Chapters project in Cardiff. I’ve seen Richard James four or five times now, and it’s usually been pretty folky, but this year he played a largely instrumental, again psychy sort of a set which I really enjoyed. At one point, the large uncompromising figure of poet David Oprava, reminiscent of David Thomas, came on stage and read a poem backed by Pen Pastwch. It was pretty powerful, if sounding a little like David Byrne in parts…

Pen Pastwyn with David Oprava

Enjoy these. I do still have a few more things to post, but whether I’ll actually get there before EotR is doubtful…

I’d go blind to save you…

Despite my best intentions, I am beginning to get a little animated by the prospect of going to Green Man again this year. If you remember, I’d pretty much sworn off buying a ticket ever again after two successive wash outs, until my friend and fellow Kingsholm crony Martin had come up with a late ticket last summer. The rest is history, as they say…

This year, Green Man have already ensnared me with the news that the magnificent Beirut have been persuaded to come over. Now, this was also announced a couple of years ago, mind, only for Zach Condon to pull out at a fairly late stage; so I’m still a little wary at this stage… (Even so, Alastair Roberts is also appearing…)

Cate le Bon

It became something of a standing joke last year that everywhere we turned we seemed to come across Cate le Bon on stage – coming on for a guest spot with Richard James here, performing a few songs for Will Hodgkinson there. I don’t think we even caught here actual set. (I’m sure she performed with Gruff Rhys a previous year as well…)

Anyway, there is now an album from Cate le Bon, Me Oh My, which came out at the end of last year, but which I have only just picked up from Emusic. It’s really rather a charming record that I’m enjoying greatly at the moment. She has a dark, beautiful voice and a slightly melodramatic delivery that gives her songs something of a jarring edge.

And now, it seems that those clever buggers at Green Man have sent her out with her bewitching ways as a sort of advanced guard, heading a mini Green Man tour that will be snagging further unsuspecting and weak-willed punters around the country.

Be on your guard, people!