King Charles

It’s nice to have a band to champion, and for me that band is Tom Williams & The Boat. It’s even nicer when said band really starts to do well for themselves, and this group have done just that. With more and more BBC radio appearences under their belt and support slots with Stornoway (who I think are a lesser band myself), the future looks pretty wonderful for the Kent six-piece and that’s only got better as they’ve now announced no less than four slots at this year’s Glastonbury, which apart from being utterly brilliant in and of itself also means I can definitely say I’m finally seeing the band live.

In support of this fantastic announcement, the band have made a video for, and are releasing their Springsteen-powered folk-pop gem ’90mph’ as a single on June 21st. It’ll be available for download on iTunes (along with last single, ‘Concentrate’) and can be pre-ordered from their spiffy new website right now. Check out the song and video below and, if you’re going to Glastonbury too, make a note of them, it’s going to be good.

Oh, and just because I’m thinking of Glastonbury, here’s a track from the man who made me smile the most in the most unexpected fashion from that weekend last year:

King Charles – Love Lust (YSI)

My god I’m poor at keeping this blogging lark. And I’m sorry. So sorry in fact that I will give you all my favourite things to listen to at the moment. I love you.

The song I have been playing most recently is, by a country mile, The Low Anthem’s ‘Charlie Darwin’. I don’t know why I haven’t heard this track, this album, this band yet, because by the sound of this one sample, they’re fucking beautiful. There sounds as if there’s so much to this track, but it’s really very simple. Just acoustic guitar, backing vocals, occasional harmonica and Ben Knox Miller’s incredible falsetto. And oh, the lyrics! ‘Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin/Fighting for a system built to fail’. Please, just download it and stop reading me write about it.

The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin (YSI)

Part of the reason I’ve not posted on here for a little while has been because I’m tasked with making a short documentary for part of my degree, and a lot of my recent time has been spent trying to find the perfect soundtrack for said doc. The whole affair is based around my annoyance with Hollywood romance, and how love is reduced to a series of grand gestures. All we’re shown in movies is people doing incredibly romantic things and expecting everlasting love, so I tried to find a song that would help convey what I think love is really about it. And I went for King Charles.

King Charles – Beating Hearts (YSI)

But I nearly went for this lovely little ditty:

The Maccabees – First Love (Acoustic) (YSI)

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have an irritating habit of filling up playlists with hundreds of tracks I don’t listen to for a very long time, and then feel like I missed out when I realise some of them are brilliant. Just such a thing has happened to me, again, with Gigi’s ‘The Old Graveyard’. It reminds me of the kind of retro piano-led pop song Belle & Sebastian are so fond of, but with a punchier aesthetic. It’s lovely, and it deserves listening to (if all the other favourable reviews hadn’t already convinced you)

Gigi – The Old Graveyard (YSI)

That’s all for now homies, more again soon(ish)!

Glastonbury Day Three

Well, I seem to have been a bit useless again, and broken my promise of those daily reviews, but I’ll make up for it with the review of my busiest day at Glastonbury.

Waking to sunshine again, we got ourselves quickly over to the Queen’s Head stage to see Two Door Cinema Club. I’ve written about this Northern Irish three-piece before, but if you haven’t already heard them, they really are quite something. Consisting of two guitarists, a bassist and a drum machine, they have already made three absolute indie-pop gems in the shape of debut single “Something Good Can Work” as well as “Undercover Martyn” and “Hands Off My Cash, Monty”, but this set went to prove just how much more they’ve got in their arsenal. Drawing in a largely ambivalent crowd throughout and soon getting the whole tent moving is no easy task, but that’s exactly what happened. Even with technical difficulties slowing the end of the set, they charmingly talked with the crowd and got a smile on every face. Definitely one to watch.

Wandering around a bit later, I spotted the poetry and spoken word tent, and noticed that John Hegley was performing. For those who haven’t come across him, Hegley is a quintessentially English comic poet and songwriter. With songs about a man who dislikes furniture, living in a Luton bungalow and poems about guillemots (birds not band) and hamsters, he’s not your conventional act, but that’s never a reason to discount him. Staying wonderfully deadpan whilst having the audience in stitches, the tiny tent was packed to the edge, and Hegley revelled in it.

Making our way to The Snug tent (half of the time reserved for bouts of Singstar), we waited patiently for Johnny Flynn. One of the flagbearers for the London new-folk movement, along with his band The Sussex Wit, Johnny Flynn crafts beautifully poetic folk numbers that manage to become catchy in the same instant as they are artistically incredible. This set was without the band however, and Johnny walked on armed with only a dobro guitar and his amazing voice. After becoming used to the full band versions of his songs, it was brilliant to hear exactly how he first conceived his songs, and established numbers like “Tickle Me Pink” and “The Box” became completely different songs with the acoustic treatment. As he left the stage, there was rapturous applause and shouts for more, and for good reason, it was wonderful.

For the most of the rest of the day, we remained mainly in one area, the Green Fields. Slap bang in the middle of the Greenpeace area was a tiny stage called the Chess Club/Mi7 stage and, just before the festival a little bird (well, Myspace) had let me know that there would be two consecutive sets from Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling. Apart from anything else, I was ridiculously excited about this as it let me see all three new-folk artists that I love most (Johnny Flynn being the third) in one day. So we took our positions in the tent with good time to spare, and saw the two preceding bands.

Let’s Tea Party were first, three scruffy young men with a penchant for smiling, melodicas and lovely, lovely tunes. After inviting a harpist they’d only just met to play with them, I couldn’t help but be on their side, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of them, although what I have heard suggests its a slightly more noisy style that they usually go for. Following quickly on their heels, King Charles followed. Unbelievably skinny with gigantic dreads, I expected some acoustic numbers, and that’s what I got, at least for the first song. He asked the audience to stand up, before unleashing 40 minutes of guitar solo-led, screaming explosions of rock goodness. Now from the one song I’ve heard, this doesn’t seem entirely in keeping with his usual style, but it was just unbelievable. The crowd turned from mild-mannered folk lovers into frenzied rock fans instantly. Certainly, it’s my most intense experience at Glastonbury, and as the announcer afterwards said, “you’ll all remember being here for the rest of your lives”. I think that may well be true.

After a short break, Mumford & Sons arrived to a wall of screams and hollers, a fair few which came from me, having just met Marcus Mumford outside and feeling like I’d made a new friend, despite only chatting for two minutes. I knew what to expect from their live show, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to just how glorious it is. I think it’s the harmonies that do it. I could talk forever about how wonderful the instrumentation is, how the sounds grow and envelop each other and just tremble down your body, but it’s the harmonies that push it into a truly wonderful territory. Those beautiful voices working together just like the instruments never fail to get me like very little other music do. Playing to crowd that seemed to be waiting for Laura Marling, I think they gained quite a few more fans in the process. Mumford & Sons are almost too good, and I’m suspicious.

But as I said, the crowd were waiting for a certain young folkstress by the name of Laura Marling. Packed like at no other time in the day, people were standing on benches, craning over one another to get a glimpse of the true queen of new-folk. Her set was nothing short of beautiful, playing every song the audience were waiting for, gracing us with a few newer, more country-tinged numbers. Her star status is assured, and with good reason – she straddles the responsibility of being a pin-up and an artist better than most can manage, and still remains humble and gracious.

Dashing off to see our last band of the festival, we reached the Pyramid stage to see a bigger crowd than any other we’d witnessed. Stretching from the front row, up the hill and all the way into the camping behind us, Blur were truly a good choice for the closing act. You have to feel sorry for the bands on at the same time, they were always going to attract a huge crowd, and with good reason. I always forget just how many hits Blur have had, and just how varied they all are, but watching Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave perfectly recreate the songs that made them the superstars they are, I was constantly enthralled. From the atomic bomb of a song that is “Song 2”, to the gospel singalong of “Tender” and into my personal favourite, “Coffee & TV”, this set was just proof of why Blur are an incredibly important band for British music.

But Glastonbury didn’t end there. It may have been the last set, but wandering around later that night we saw some incredible things. These included hundreds of people spontaneously dancing to “Thriller” in the Stone Circles, accidently finding Basement Jaxx playing to about ten people in a futuristic Hong Kong covered market and watching a middle aged woman nearly impale herself on a candelstick whilst dancing to the Friends theme tune on a table in the middle of a thunderstorm. Really. And that’s why Glastonbury is the best festival in the world. The music might be incredible, but there are so many non-musical moments, so many discoveries and experiences that you can have there that it pushes the festival out of simply a musical area and into a festival in the true sense of the word, a celebration of human interaction, and what we’re capable of.

Did I just write that last bit? Well, if you didn’t like that, I’ll just tell it to you straight: It’s fucking amazing.

Two Door Cinema Club – Undercover Martyn (YSI)
Johnny Flynn – Tickle Me Pink (Demo) (YSI)
Let’s Tea Party – Reptile (YSI)
King Charles – Time Of Eternity (YSI)
Mumford & Sons – The Cave (YSI)
Laura Marling – My Manic & I (YSI)
Blur – Coffee & TV (YSI)