I’m not a kid, and you’re not a baby

This is poor, even by my laggardly standards…

Six (yep, six), weeks ago, I went down to The Lantern in Colston Hall to see the dazzling and always rewarding Field Music, and then, apparently fell asleep at the wheel. To be fair, I was convinced I had written a post, uploaded a few recordings and, starting off on another jaunt to Madrid, had very much filed this under “dealt with”. Imagine my surprise…

Hmm. I’m listening to my recording of the evening now to try to regain a little of the frisson and some of the exhilaration of another evening in the company of The Best Band in Britain. And maybe… just maybe…

Think very hard, people, and maybe we can achieve one of those surely not credible time-ripples employed on children’s TV shows to such great effect.

Field Music, The Lantern

Imagine a younger, less grizzled PP, still in possession of a full head of hair – naïve, hopeful, yet to be brought low by the cares and vicissitudes of a pitiless world. Simpler times.

It was under circumstances pretty much similar to these that I found myself alongside a similarly youthful, sable and care-free Coleser, both of us as giddily expectant as any right-thinking man would be, awaiting the arrival of the Brewis brothers. I think I’ve seen them five times now, and it’s still a uniquely assured experience – you know you’re not going to be disappointed.

The new album, “Open Here”, is another entertaining, ambitious and complex affair, with a few straight up, near political statements that confirm the band’s status (if it were ever in doubt) as a couple of Life’s Good Guys.

And so it came across onstage.

Seventy five minutes of apparently effortless precision – noisy bonhomie, fidgety riffing and general goofing around with time signatures. I may be imagining it, but I felt there was something of a leap in confidence in the performance – there was none of the apologetic, almost disbelieving, gratefulness at the audience reaction. It looked to me like it may have recently dawned on the lads that they have a hell of a product; a genuine gifting.

And also, by now, a pretty devoted following. There was a time when I feared for the boys, imagining that grinding under-appreciation and lack of cash might do for them, but actually I don’t worry about it anymore. They look like a band secure in the knowledge that they’re doing it right and that people know they are. They looked happy, secure and confident in a load of good songs and in particular a great new record.

The minutes flashed by and the announcement that they were now on their last song was greeted with puzzled disbelief as a group of enchanted punters, collectively looked at their watches and scratched their heads.

Many, many highpoints, but I give you a couple of sparklers from “Open Here” and their “big hit” of yesteryear (as if…)

Count It Up

Disappointed

No King No Princess

Such a band…

Pounds and pennies aren’t the only kind of capital!

 

Spring’s a-coming!

 

Friday week to be exact…

This is as close to worth it as we’ve been hoping for

field-music_creditandymartinActually, I do feel better for that.

Got a few comments about last night’s post and the, erm, tone of it. So I thought I’d probably better get in and talk about some of the records I actually liked from this year.

Like this one…

Commontime – Field Music

When I started to go through the aforementioned end-of-year lists I was struck by the fact that Field Music’s latest gift only came out this year – it seems like it came out ages ago. I’m tempted to think that Time really is a relative concept when it comes to Field Music records. They pack such a lot into every moment of every tune that the Old Feller does some sort of double-take, holds up for a moment and rewinds the tape. (You’ll notice that in my stuffed, overdone metaphor, for some reason Time still uses a shonky old cassette player…)

Talking about Field Music making one of the best records of the year is a bit like suggesting Barcelona could win the Champions League this season – not exactly sticking your neck out, are you? But there you are, if it’s quality, you might as well call it.

So another Field Music record, another ambitious record choc-full of twitching time signatures, bold but sparingly-used guitars, taut drumming and all manner of muted jiggery-pokery dancing around the edges. Such is the regularity and consistency of the Brewis’ output that at first I was tempted to add this to my “treading water” list of yesterday. Thankfully for my shot-to-pieces credibility, I gave it another listen and all manner of technicolour fantasia figures reintroduced themselves through my headphones. What beautiful, clever chappies they are.

One of the things that struck me at the time and even more so yesterday is the immediacy and warmth of the lyrics. Snatches of conversation fresh from the Brewis kitchen (I like to think) waft in and out of the songs, some of them alarmingly candid, almost ill-advisedly frank. Kind-hearted counsel, which in other less-skilled hands would sound arch or cheesy, is instead dispensed with tenderness and sympathy, and such is the legendary niceness of the brothers that I take it at the fullest of face values.

Some of the songs are damn funky (in spite of what they say), some are tricky listens (not going to lie to you…) and some pass you by completely until you take a moment, but all of them are intelligent and reward you for a careful listen (not always my speciality), new white horses rising to the surface with every listen.

Here’s a belting video of one of those KEXP sessions (God bless those folk) with a great interview with the brothers in the middle (where they talk about the “F” word) and the best version of Disappointed with its clever vocal interplay and heroic bassline.

The comments on any Field Music video are quite illuminating, siting all sorts of bands as influences almost all of whom I’ve either never bothered with or have high-handedly dismissed as beneath me.

Well, thank God for the Brewises!

Chewing my own arm off…

Penny Smith - The Clash London CallingHaving spunked away invested the last of my EMusic credits for this period in loco Peruvian psychedelia, I find myself drumming my fingers on the dashboard of my laptop impatiently waiting for my refresh date.

I’ve apparently not planned this well.

Firstly there’s the new Field Music record already out and no doubt getting good reviews (impossible to imagine them being anything less than gushing…), which I will be compelled to get as soon as that darned Refresh Date rolls around.

Here’s a very fidgety “The Noisy Days Are Over” from the record:

 

(Really enjoying the Blockheads-style sax break…)

I don’t need to say anything about Field Music, they are what they are, and I’d invest all of a hefty lottery win into ensuring they stay that way (I live in fear of them packing it in…)

Also due out… ooh…  any day now, is a second record from Trouble in Mind’s Doug Tuttle, which I’m very much looking forward to hearing. Really, really enjoyed the first one and I’d be very surprised if I didn’t say so loudly on these very pages.

There’s this offering on the TiM site, which is sounding very promising too:

 

 

And then there’s a third record from another of my recent favourites, the increasingly Dylan-esque Kevin Morby, which is due out in April. And again, doesn’t this sound good?:

 

I’m chewing my own arm off, here…

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?

No need to worry, now the day is done

Well, I’m back from another fine weekend of music, good company and mud at the tenth GreenMan.

It really chucked it down on the Friday and the site quickly became a bit of a mud bath in places. We’ve had three pretty good years previously, so I guess a wet one was due… I don’t like the rain, but can generally cope OK, but this was the first time I’ve actually left a festival early, regrettably missing all the Sunday acts (particularly disappointed to miss Of Montreal…).

We did our normal trick of packing the tent up Sunday morning ready for a quick midnight flit once the revelry was all over, but when we got to the car park at ten or so, it became obvious it was a case of leaving there and then or sleeping in the car and being pulled out of the mud by a tractor on the Monday. Being gentlemen of a certain age, we chose the former, and escaped slithering and skidding from the car park by the skin of our teeth, aided by a group of energetic and noble stewards and assorted other mudlarks. It wasn’t pretty (and neither were we by the end), but I was glad to be away (as I write, I’m getting tweets from people still marooned in the mud…).

Still, getting there by midday Thursday, I felt we got an almost full complement of festival fun – drink was taken, pies were eaten and music was all over as ever. I got some pretty good recordings and I’ll try to get the best bits up in better fashion than last year…

Field Music

I love Field Music. I love Field Music more every time I see them. From their humble, good natured attitudes though their jumpy, complex rhythms to their well-fashioned, clever lyrics – I love them beyond reason.

They played a terrific set, covering a lot of Plumb but also touching on each of the other records and some School of Language stuff to an enthusiastic tent of punters.

I’m still impressed at the way the Brewis brothers switch drumming, guitar and vocal duties between songs, none of which seemed to interrupt the flow of an effervescent, and at times, funky set. It may have been the best performance of my weekend (although there’s another candidate for that, which I’ll come to soon). They seemed to enjoy the atmosphere in the Far Out tent too and made a point of thanking everyone via Twitter, claiming that it was their best festival experience ever. Good lads…

I’ve got some decent recordings, too:

Who’ll pay the bills?

(I’ve been thinking about) A New Thing

Them That Do Nothing

Rockist pt1

Going through the attic…

I’m trying to tidy this old place up a little, and one of the things that’s needed doing for a fair while is to update all my recordings, a lot of which have lost their links.

So I’ve been going through some of the gigs I’ve been to in the last few years and renewed the links. In some cases, I’ve put up the whole set, where as before I’d only posted a few tracks (I have no idea why I didn’t do this at the time. I suspect idleness).

 

So here we go (some of this stuff is new):

David Byrne at Colston Hall, March ‘09

Art Brut at the Guildhall, Feb ‘08

Field Music at the Guildhall, June ‘10

Bon Iver at Green Man, August ’09 and

Phosphorescent at Thekla, May ‘11

More to follow…

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