Suffering as a little bit of time taken for yourself…

I was thinking of proroguing Partly Porpoise for five weeks, but then I asked myself, would you notice the difference?

(Somehow “shit-show” no longer suffices.)

 

I’m going to close my eyes and think of happier times…

I’ve had a few days up in that London, pretty much “living it large” (as I believe the young folk would have it). It was a groove and a gas.

By the end of the stay, I felt like a minor prince, strutting purposefully from place to place, airily waving my plastic at obliging shop assistants, waiters and purveyors of fine wines and vinyl, all of whom duly prostrated themselves before me. Even the barriers at tube stations ceded to my all-conquering card (that was a revelation, I can tell you…) Of course, I bought a sackload of CDs, more books than I strictly need and generally spent money with a flash and ease that I knew I would regret when back in the real world. (And so it proved.)

But enough of this, I’m sure you’re saying, did I see any music?

Oh, indeedy…

White Fence, Oslo, Hackney

I’ll admit, of recent I’ve lost track of Tim Presley’s dizzyingly varied output, since the first Drinks record in fact (didn’t even know until yesterday that there’d been a second one). He’s a widening gyre of feverish activity for sure, with all sorts of releases in the four years since I wrote this in 2015. He seems to career from one corner of the “difficult” room to the other – one minute he’s thrashing away like a good ’un with Ty Segall, the next he’s all atonal prickliness and dense lyrical forestry with Cate le Bon. It’s a job for an old guy to keep up, you know.

I’m not really up on London venues – I’ve not seen a gig in the capital for years – but the Oslo seems like a decent spot, with a hipsterish bar/restaurant beneath the concert hall. It was something of a novelty booking a table and getting vegan burgers and craft beers before the show (when in the metropolis…), and only wending our way casually upstairs when Presley and band had finished their chicken wings at the next table.

We did actually see most of support act Robert Sotelo but I didn’t really get it to be honest. I’m all for bands reading lyrics off crib sheets (it suggests a certain crisp freshness to the material after all), and it may be that his music “owes as much to Davies and McCartney’s unashamed belief in melody as it does to the uncertainty and confusion that comes with mid-thirties existentialism” (ahem) but nothing worked for me really. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singer look as ill-at-ease.

All forgotten, a couple of hours later though, by which time White Fence had jogged athletically through a 90-minute, 15-song set that was definitely wearing the le Bon dungarees from Presley’s wardrobe, in something of a contrast to the last time I saw him.

Most of the songs came from the recent I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk record or from Presley’s solo album Wink, and unfamiliar I was with them, I really enjoyed it. There was nothing from (what I’m calling) his Ty Segall records and although the familiar slashed, trebly freakbeat chords were never far from the surface (all played in his own distinctive high slung, Hollies fashion), there was not so much of the garage punk freakouts that characterised the time I saw him in Bristol.

There’s actually a clip of part of the Oslo gig on YouTube, but it’s not quite as good as this one, shot a couple of weeks earlier and pretty much the same (save for the neatly tucked in beige tank top Presley sported for the whole of our steamy evening).

 

Despite looking so relaxed in the bar beforehand, it seemed to take a little while for things to settle as it were, but once he did, Presley and band gave pretty good gig (particularly the second guitarist Josh Popowitz and getting-down-to-business drummer Phelan Handley – not at all sure about these names…), the set gradually getting more frayed and psyche as the evening thrummed on.

The hall itself was a classic rock venue, in the bar-along-one-side, sticky-floored fashion of the Fleece, and the sound was probably even better, and so the recordings came out pretty well.

I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk

Clue

Live on Genevieve

Until You Walk

I have a few White Fence / Tim Presley / Presley & Segall records to catch up on now…

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?

The swagger vets they come…

I am unfeasibly excited about seeing White Fence tomorrow night and have spent the weekend immersing myself in For The Recently Found Innocent and the Live in San Francisco records that came out last year.

Can you blame me?

(No apologies for the awful sound quality…))

Many strangers have arrived, wearing immense black boots, selling buttons at my door, I don’t feel well

f23ee6be4059db716502c71ea3433326Once again the earnest souls of @lpgrp have organised a Secret Santa exchange of Best of ’14 tracks to share with each other. I enjoy this and it’s always interesting to hear new endorsements but I have to admit that this year I threw mine together in a bit of a hurry, having not got myself organised earlier and for a number of reasons I’m not entirely happy with it.

Probably the biggest gripe I have with myself is that although the brief was to compile it from “new to you” tracks rather than bona fide released-in-the-last-12-months stuff, there really isn’t much new stuff here. I can’t decide whether this is because 2014’s not been a great year for new releases or whether this year I’ve been more easily distracted than usual. I suspect it’s a large slice of both.

This is one of the reasons I’ve not clambered into the whole seasonal gongs business this year – I haven’t really bought a lot of new stuff (neither have I seen a lot of live music, for that matter…) – and so I feel a little out of touch. All in all, I reckon the tracks by Mogran Delt, Doug Tuttle, the Delines, Siesta! and Tigres Leones are about the only brand new stuff on the collection. The tracks by White Fence, Courtney Barnett and Speedy Ortiz are new-ish but the rest is, I’m afraid, all old. Some of it really old (the Trio Matamoros song is from the forties, I think).

But anyway, here, in all its glory:

Secret Santa ’14 – @Sweeny99

  1. Pink Gorilla – White Fence
  2. Make My Grey Brain Green – Morgan Delt
  3. Save My Soul – Wimple Winch
  4. 1906 – The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
  5. Millionspiel – Can
  6. Bat Macumba – Os Mutantes
  7. Muevéla – Abelardo Carbonó
  8. Jam 5 Kai Thiet – Ros Serey Sothea
  9. Lam Tung Wai – Chaweewan Dumnem
  10. Buenos Hermanos – Trio Matamoros
  11. Avant Gardener – Courtney Barnett
  12. Colfax Avenue – the Delines
  13. Erusu Nganga – The Sweet Talks
  14. Ya Mom Samaray – Guelewar
  15. Bocata de Sangre – Siesta!
  16. Pájaros – Tigres Leones
  17. With Us Soon – Doug Tuttle
  18. No below – Speedy Ortiz

Having said all this, you’ll love it – some psych, some afrobeat, some garage punk, some Spanish new wave – but particularly worth noting are tracks 8 and 9 which I’ve taken from a couple of fabulous Cambodian and Siamese compilations by Parallel World and by the consistently brilliant Soundway Records.

If you don’t fancy any of it, I understand, it’s OK – we can still be friends. Although, I would urge you to listen at least to the Trio Matamoros track which features Cuba’s greatest singer Beny Moré and is just magnificent. It also includes a really wild piano break which sounds like it finishes in some sort of plane crash (around the 2:30 mark).

 

I was going to leave it there, but I think it’s worth mentioning that while I may not have spent much time on new releases, 2014 has not been a waste of time entirely. It is after all the year when I finally discovered the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, surely the weirdest of a weird crop.

“1906” is certainly as odd a song as anything I heard this year and I can’t help thinking 2015 will have to be a very strange one indeed to throw up anything like this…

 

Here’s to more strangeness!

I want what’s behind the moon…

DSC_0409My Psychfest adventure now a flickering tea-light in the distance, I thought I’d pretty much had my fill of bands linked with the omnipresent “psychedelia” tag in whatever questionable fashion. Truth be told I’ve bought a few “homework” records on this basis that I’m not really enjoying. Seemed to spend a fair bit of time at Psychfest listening to po-faced bands, bass cranked up to eleven, plodding through turgid sets, surrounded by earnest punters, heads bobbing grimly, and I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t be doing with that. All a bit dull, if you ask me. Can’t even say I’m much of a fan of the ubiquitous Ty Segall – I can do small doses, but then I feel like a bit of a lie down, to be honest.

This feller is venturing out West in the New Year, though…

White Fence

White Fence, as you’ll probably all know, are the vehicle of Tim Presley, who’s been around for a good while now, releasing a whole bunch of records, including last year’s Cyclops Reap which I’ve been listening to a lot this week, believing it to be his most recent, until I discovered this year’s Drag City release For The Recently Found Innocent. This is not just me being slow (although clearly…) Presley is genuinely hard to keep up with – I gather he released three records in 2012 alone (including Hair with Ty Segall). What can you do?

(While I think of it, I can’t believe that rock musicians are genuinely born with a name like “Presley”, so I’m guessing he’s changed his name at some point – I really hope it was the Troggs he had in mind…)

White Fence records are trebly, twangy affairs, dominated by meandering guitar lines and generic psyche tics – managing to sound like the Pretty Things and Love at one and the same time. Anyone who’s ever spent more than fifteen minutes in my company will know that I’m a simple fellow and that this will pretty much do it for me.

One of the things I really like about a White Fence record, I think, is that Presley isn’t afraid to turn the bass down. I know I sound like my Dad at this point, but I’m a bit fed up of not being able to hear anything but bass and drums at gigs. Truth be told, it’s becoming a bit of a thing… Cyclops Reap, by contrast is full of shrill delights, punctuated throughout by loose-stringed, winding guitar breaks, venturing only occasionally into the realms of fuzz and wah-wah. It’s a record that apparently signals Presley’s emergence from lo-fi productions into more professional productions but really these things are all relative. You’d not really say it’s a polished record…

There’s not too much proper video of White Fence, not even any “official” stuff, but I like this footage of a set at something called Phuzz Phest, the first track, Anger! Who Keeps You Under? featuring the man himself bowing his guitar Eddie Phillips-style. Perfect!