I really shouldn’t say it, but I just love what the water does.

Another strange and striking evening at Slak, last week.

I haven’t been to a Calmer evening for a while, but was drawn to a strong line up featuring Doveman and David Thomas Broughton. I also managed to drag my son along to his first Calmer evening, and am now hoping that it was suitably cool for him.

Actually, I don’t care much – I’m still and always impressed by just how damn groovy the whole Calmer scene is – I tell you I’d’ve been very happy to have had anything as good when I was seventeen. He should be grateful, I reckon.

Sam Amidon is a New York guitarist who came on first and played a series of bluegrass and Appalachian numbers on guitar and banjo. It was really well done, and was added to considerably by the atmospheric keyboards added by Doveman in places. Amidon has two albums available on emusic, here and here, the most recent one being a “Pick”, and also garnishing a 7.9 from Pitchfork. I shall have a listen.

Doveman’s mother actually calls him Thomas Bartlett, and he, it turns out, is a bit of a childhood buddy of Amidon – they played together in a number of bands, but I didn’t really enjoy him as much as his mate, although his songs did build up impressively. I can’t say I really warmed to his voice, it was a bit breathy, a bit, well, girly. And while we’re at it, I didn’t like the silly hand gestures he kept using.

(I’m being unreasonable. I’m listening to his record now, and it’s not half bad…)

Both fellers contribute to this Blog, Speak Peppery, which I shall keep an eye on from now on.

David Thomas Broughton

Until now David Thomas Broughton had confined himself to prowling around on the edge of proceedings, adding the occasional backing vocals from the bar, or sitting on stage fiddling with speakers and mixing things, in order to get his trademark strange noises from them.

I’ve posted about Broughton before (here and here) and have gone on at length about his voice and looping. So I’ll try not to go over any old ground here.

It is, however, a hell of voice he’s got. Words like “haunting” and “keening” spring to your mind when you hear him, and I remember being impressed with this when I saw him at Green Man. Sat a few meters away from him, however, what I hadn’t noticed before is what an odd character he really is. Dressed in the sort of grey tweed trousers I remember having to wear as a child for trips to my nana’s house, he came on stage, guitar strapped on but also carrying a tiny television set. He went on to set it up and tune it off-channel and used the white noise as atmospherics for his songs. He also used a Dictaphone or something from which he coaxed another range of hisses and pops to be used over his songs.

When singing he fidgeted constantly, punctuating his songs with coughs and yawns and at one point went through a routine of compulsive trouser adjustments. At times he was quite funny, at others a little intimidating, and certainly held the attention.

Most of the time his voice and delivery (“keening”, “haunting” etc) overcame all the other distractions; and the narrow line between weirdness and self-indulgence was generally trod quite deftly. (I say “most of the time”, at least one song was completely overwhelmed by feedback and white noise.)

Performers who leave the stage area and start moving around the tables and bar stools are almost de rigueur at Calmer, and Broughton spent a fair amount of time doing this. He also had an intriguing line in dramatic gestures – at one point he took some change from his pocket while singing, banged it on a table and placed an upturned beer glass over it, before moving back onto the stage.

I have no idea… I just know that no one had the nerve to pocket the money….

For my birthday, I bought myself a small video camera, and took this video of a fairly idiosyncratic version of Ambiguity.

(Apologies for the abrupt ending, I’m not really sure how to edit this sort of thing yet…)

Happy New Year!

I’m going to start the new year in fairly typical fashion in that I’m going to post a couple of things I meant to do a few days ago…

Am already regretting my slightly churlish decision not to present a list of 2007’s best releases. Having thought about it there were enough good new releases to make quite a comprehensive list after all – albums by Gruff Rhys, The Besnard Lakes, Deerhunter and, yes, Burial all spring easily to mind, now. But anyway the moment’s gone.

I did want to mention, though, a few new tracks and developments from some of the bands I’ve blithered on about this year.

Firstly I have a track from the new Poq release that was sent to me just before Christmas. It’s actually available on Emusic (God bless ‘em). It’s a remix of the “Disko” track which has been around for a while, but I rather like this new version.

Disko (Lifting Gear Engineer Remix) – Poq

There are also a couple of new tracks available from Birmingham’s Hoden Lane available on their Myspace page, and news of a demo cd which I am assured I’ll be getting a copy of. I’ll post one track, and you can flutter over to their Myspace to pick up the other

Prince Charming – Hoden Lane

Then there’s a couple of compelling, though a little crackly, songs from the great David Thomas Broughton, recorded live with fellow Green Man veterans 7 Hertz (also worth seeing if you get the chance). You can get the other track here.

So Much Sin to Forgive – David Thomas Broughton & 7 Hertz

Broughton has recently released an interesting single with a Swedish electronica producer called Chris Casati, which are pretty good too, and available here (or on iTunes, if you have to…).

Then finally, there’s one extra track available from the sulphurous lair of Michael J Sheehy. He’s also been recording this year, and performing with his brother’s band. See the videos here.

Flyin’ Shoes – Michael J Sheehy

And that’s cleared up all of that. Happy New Year!

I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here, but here’s someone I’ve come across, who’s well worth a look-see…

David Thomas Broughton

David Thomas Broughton is a guitarist and song writer, from Leeds, a singer-songwriter, if you will. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you may remember that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with singer-songwriters, generally being bored to tears by many of that ilk, but I have to admit that there are enough performers who do manage to grab my attention. I still think it’s still quite a trick, to sit in front of an audience (or a recording mike) with just voice and strings, and actually stand out from the rest, making yourself sound interesting and exciting. But anyway, David Thomas Broughton certainly does it.

If you do a bit of Googling for the name, you’ll not be clicking long before you see comparison made with Anthony and the Johnsons. I try not to do this, but you can’t ignore the similarities between both their voices. Broughton’s voice is definitely from the same packetas Hegarty’s even if the accompaniments are quite different. It’s a haunting powerful voice that you’ll want to hear more of.

I think what also helps Broughton’s recordings to stand out is the fact that he uses loop pedals really cleverly to build up quite a large but often unsettlingly disjointed sound. If Ignatz is an ultra modern (can I say “post-industrial”?) blues player soaking himself in static and distortion, then David Thomas Broughton is definitely a folk-blues cousin, treating his songs with a similar jarring touch.

Broughton has two albums out on Birdwar Records, the beautiful but tainted “The Complete Guide to Insufficiency”, which was recorded in one long take in a church in Leeds, and a newer release “It’s In There Somewhere”, which was released in March this year, and is I believe a collection of songs from the last six years.

I can only find one track available for download, which comes from his Myspace page, and unfortunately it’s a live recording which is pretty hissy, but which is still worth sticking with. From there, I’d really recommend getting the albums. And then, if you’re cool enough to have a Green Man ticket, you’re in… You’ll be able to catch him at the Green Man Café on the Sunday. See you there.

Another Hole

There are, however, a bunch of YouTube clips of the guy, and here’s one of them, (see you at Green Man…)