Tom Williams and The Boat

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There is some bloody good music on this week’s show. Some of it I’ve written about, some of it I most likely will, and some of it’s just nice to hear again. A PUZZLE: Listen to it all and find out what’s what.

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This week’s show marked the 24th hour of The Folk Bloke. If I had been in any way prepared, I would have marked the situation with features, interviews, competitions and general reverie. As it was I just talked about how I had psychic powers and played some excellent music.

Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetry Sings

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m just going to leave these here. Do with them as you will.

Tenacious D – Double Team (YSI)

There follows an interview I’d forgotten I’d done (the perils of the emailer) that got posted rather a while ago over on This Is Fake DIY with the affable and ever-so humble Tom Williams (of The Boat fame). As a side note, I feel as though I said a few things that Tom fun fundementally disagreed with, or at least had no idea about. So, yeah, sorry about that, Tom. Need to sharpen up the ol’ interview filtering skills methinks.

Yours has been one of the most meteoric rises for a new band of the last year – how does it feel to be in the middle of all that?
It doesn’t really feel like that at all, has it really been? It’s very difficult when you’re in it, it still feels amazing but it’s not easy to get to grips with the complete trajectory or context of your achievements which is a shame, but I think pretty necessary.

What do you credit to your sudden success?
Haha, um… really not sure. We do sound a bit different to other stuff, I mean hearing ‘Get Older’ play listed on 6music and played from 7am to 7pm sounded amazingly weird, it’s a pretty abrasive record and stuck out a fair bit. What I find more interesting is the group of people that felt it was worth taking a punt on, I find that really amazing.

You’ve always had a DIY aesthetic, running your own label, releasing your own material, offering free downloads – do you feel your new-found fame will stop you from continuing that?
No I think that’s a really important part of it all and I think it helps people feel part of something that’s important. It’s about writing your own blogs, signing CDs and vinyl with stupid messages, replying individually to people on Twitter. Silly small incidental things which seem kind of natural for us, people appreciate that stuff too and it’s also nice to know the people that come to our gigs etc, it makes it all worth while.

You still often play shows in your hometown [Tunbridge Wells], did the music scene there inspire you onto what you’ve achieved so far, or is it just a desire to keep playing when you’re not touring?
Tunbridge Wells is a chance to play to friends and family and just try and relax a bit, although I always find those shows the most stressful! We’ve had so much of support and love from our local scene that it would seem treacherous to not play there as much as possible. All the guys that run The Forum, local label Unlabel (who help us release all our vinyl) and local studios etc. have all been a big part of our story so far and I hope they will be in the future too.

Your debut album, Too Slow, has a real emphasis on storytelling – do you write the music for the stories, or do they evolve independently?
I tend to write the lyrics first which might explain that, although there of course exceptions to that rule. It is quite hard, however, to write a song that doesn’t develop some kind of timeline through it’s 3-4 minutes, or maybe it’s just the song writing I’ve been brought up on. It’ll change in the future I’m sure, as my record collection evolves but stories is what I’m in love with at the moment!

There’s a definite sense of social consciousness that comes out throughout the album – how do you perceive Britain today?
I made quite a massive effort to not make any sweeping statement about the economical / political / social state of Britain, rather focusing on individual’s plights. I’d hope that any view on how Britiain or the UK functions or succeeds / fails is implicit in the well being of the individuals in the songs.

Do you feel there’s a lack of British artists truly commenting on the world around them at the current time?
I think it’ll come, out of great hardship comes great songs and everything’s feeling very 1970s at the moment.

You played five sets at Glastonbury last year – why so many? Any plans to beat that number this year?
Haha we’d love to, hoping to sort that kind of stuff out asap. I think if we play again this year we’ll just play one or two. It was so exhausting but so so much fun, playing everything from the Avalon Stage to tiny tents in the Green Fields with sound systems powered by bicycles, we went for the complete Glastonbury experience.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2011?
I’ve got a mountain of new songs the boat need to get their teeth into, we’re recording on the odd weekend in Boat HQ in the heart of Kent, in a massive open barn that’s also a working brewery so the recordings are sounding very different but fantastic. Lots of gigging, lots of festivals, lots of recording and lots of good times.

Tom Williams & The Boat – Denmark (YSI) Removed by request.

So let’s begin where we left off shall we? I really can’t be arsed with a full day-by-day review of Glastonbury this year, sufficed to say it was brilliant, apart from the near intolerable heat. I made many a wise choice throughout for once, opting for The Flaming Lips over Gorillaz which turned out to be the best stage show I’ve ever seen (as anyone who’s seen them live will attest to) and risked huge disappointment by heading to The Park Stage whilst Mos Def was on because of an unsubstantiated rumour that Radiohead would be playing. Luckily, it soon became wonderfully substantiated (well, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood played anyway).

That weekend also acted as a watershed moment for me as it became the first time I’d ever felt like a proper journalistic ponce after I managed to “network” with both artists and other bloggers. First, I met Matthew from Song, By Toad at the Meursault performance, who I managed to babble incoherently to – I actually became starstruck by a blogger, which strikes me as a little pathetic, but will hopefully act as a compliment to him. The next day, I bumped into Tom Williams of him & the Boat fame. I’d watched them earlier at one of their seemingly endless string of performances and, after he realised I wasn’t a creepy stalker or drug-peddler, his eyes got a little less wide and he turned out to be as likeable a fellow as his emails have suggested to me. Finally, I made yet another correct decision in watching Grizzly Bear (victorious) over the England team (defeated), and ended up behind two of the girls from Mountain Man, who actually recognised me. Unfortunately, it became clear that this wasn’t because my fame had spread far farther than I had reckoned for, but because they’d seen me simultaneously singing and spilling chocolate ice cream onto my prized Johnny Flynn T-shirt in the front row of their performance earlier. Nevertheless, they were absolutely charming and provided added entertainment when one of them suddenly realised that their cousin was on stage. As a member of Grizzly Bear.

The moral of the story – talk to those in the business. They all seem very nice.

Meursault – Crank Resolutions (YSI)
Tom Williams & The Boat – Train Station Car Park (YSI)
Mountain Man – Buffalo (YSI)
Dartz! – Network! Network! Network! (YSI)

Tomorrow I’m starting a journey to Glastonbury. The day after Glastonbury I embark on a transatlantic tour the likes of which Kerouac could never have dreamed of (well, Las Vegas and Florida). As such, this blog may have to take a little downtime as I doubt I’ll have extended access to a computer for a little over a month. So I’m going to post tracks by lots of the artists I’m looking forward to seeing next weekend as a sort of temporary swansong(s). Until next we meet.

The xx – Fantasy (YSI)
Snoop Dogg – Drop It Like It’s Hot (YSI)
Mos Def – Auditorium feat. Slick Rick (YSI)
Stevie Wonder – Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (YSI)
The National – Terrible Love (YSI)
Mountain Man – How’m I Doin’ (YSI)
Wild Beasts – The Devil’s Crayon (YSI)
Midlake – Roscoe (YSI)
Tom Williams & The Boat – Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet (YSI)
Meursault – One Day This’ll All Be Fields (YSI)

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)

I’ve been rather lax on this particular post for a while, so here’s a well-overdue new post about my favourite band from Tunbridge Wells, Tom Williams and the Boat. As you can see above, Tom and co. have re-recorded an old song of theirs, ‘Concentrate’ for a single release on the 8th of March. It’s always been one of their most driving and forceful tracks, and the re-record has leant it an even more rocky air, toning down the folkier elements and bringing the focus onto the electric guitars and reflective lyrics. This is as emotive as we’ve seen Tom before, and it’s a good style for him; his impassioned shouts at the end suit the track down to the ground, and I’d certainly like to hear more of Tom’s angrier side in the future. Take a listen to the track below, and if you like it I urge to buy it – this is a band who deserve to break out of the local scene and onto a bigger stage, and soon at that.

Tom Williams and the Boat – Train Station Car Park (YSI)

Here’s the second chunk of tuneful wonderment, and if you want the whole list in one easy-to-download package of delight, here’s the whole damn heap.

Manic Street Preachers – Me and Stephen Hawking (YSI)

I’ve heard the whole album in different sittings, and it really should be on my list, but I never actually bought it in the end, so here’s my favourite song so far – the perfect connection of Richey Edwards’ incredible lyrics and James Dean Bradfield’s rockstar guitar tendencies. The Manics recaptured their greatest form here, I just hope they’ve got more of the much-missed Mr. Edwards’ notebooks hidden away somewhere.

Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt. 1 (YSI)

Meursault have firmly rooted themselves on my ‘favourite new bands’ list, with their debut album and latest EP releases each blowing me away for different reasons. This song has an oh-so-catchy handclap chorus and lyrics about a hermaphrodite politician who had strange burial requests. What more could you want?

Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt. 2 (YSI)

I just couldn’t decide ok? The second half of this story sees a far slower, wail-filled affair, bringing the whole mood done somewhat, but for an entirely good reason. By the way, the band have just released new, more electronic, versions of both of these songs as new singles – get ahold of them from Song By Toad, it’s bloody worth it.

Phoenix – Lisztomania (YSI)

What list this year would be complete without Phoenix? This and ‘1901’ are just incredible singles, sure to become classic pop hits, and whilst I like both, there’s something about ‘Lisztomania’ that oozes cool, seeming to explode with noise at points, and yet never losing its feeling of easy-going charm.

Radiohead – These Are My Twisted Words (YSI)

Ah, Radiohead. How they can make me like what’s essentially a five and a half minute sinister freak out (not my favourite style I have to say) is a marvel. There’s something so beautiful about the directions and left turns they take, letting it wash over you before switching up again, never quite allowing one idea to go on for too long. It felt perfectly at home in their live set too, bridging the gap between their more abstract songs and the hits.

The Second Hand Marching Band – We Walk In The Room (YSI)

Making beautifully constructed songs must be difficult if you have a shifting set of over 20 musicians, but this song proves it can be done. Adapting a Beirut sound into a far more expansive and ever-growing proposition, the mass chants sound like a rallying call for fey indie kids everywhere, and it doesn’t succumb to the crescendoed heights it seems to suggest it will at points, a nice exercise in restraint that shows how such a large band can make understated music.

Shift-Static – Father’s Footsteps Pt. 2 (YSI)

Shift-Static describe their genre as shoe-step, embracing the disparate influences of shoegaze’s wall of sound techniques and dubstep’s shuffling, occasionally mournful beats. It doesn’t get much clearer that this is a perfect description when you listen to this. All Kate Bush swirling vocals to begin with before suddenly mutating into some quietly throbbing, beat-laden beast, it’s bloody weird, and bloody brilliant.

Thom Yorke – All For The Best (YSI)

This cover of a Mark Mulcahy song takes the best of Thom Yorke’s solo work and marries it to louder sound, allowing guitars and real drums to seep in somewhere along the way, perfectly complementing the sad yet ultimately redemptive tone of the lyrics.

Tom Williams & The Boat – Bonkers (YSI)

Tom Williams may be adept at creating folk-pop tunes that I love, but this hoedown version of Dizzee Rascal’s horrible, horrible song made me love the band for a whole new reason – their sense of humour. This just sounds like friends making music because they love it, with no ulterior motive.

Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can It Work (YSI)

This song can cheer me up in mere moments. There’s something so bloody wonderful about listening to a band just say, ‘yeah, things can be good’ and back it up with the most upbeat music you’ve ever hear. At the time that I heard it, they were unsigned and still playing little gigs; now they’re signed to cooler-than-thou Kitsuné and I saw them play Glastonbury. They’re going to be big, they’re going to make a lot more amazing songs, but this will always be the one I cherish most, because it feels like a band just believing in themselves, even when they haven’t achieved anything just yet.

Vampire Weekend – Horchata (YSI)

I simply cannot wait for the second album from these guys, and by the sound of this track they might have some new tricks up their sleeve. This takes all the African influences they love so much, cranks them up higher than they’ve ever gone before and puts it all on an avant-garde dance track. Freakin’ awesome.

The Very Best – Warm Heart of Africa (feat. Ezra Koenig) (YSI)

Just after I talk about Ezra Koenig making an African-themed dance track, we have this, an… African dance track, featuring Ezra Koenig. It somehow sounds completely different though, using actual African samples as a base and building up from there. It’s an unadulterated slice of sunny pop, and a sure-fire dancefloor hit.

Withered Hand – Religious Songs (YSI)

Technically, it’s a song from 2008, but I’ve only heard this year’s Good News album version so I feel no shame in including it here. The lyrics are what makes this so brilliant, at times a twisted love song, at others a meditation on happiness and all the time wonderful. Lines like ‘How does he really expect to be happy/when he listens to death metal bands’ and ‘I knew you so long I ran out of cool things to say’ make me smile instinctively, and turn this into an instantly relatable song, totally human and never pretentious.

Having written this, I realise I’ve definitely missed some out, so if you want to tell me what you think I’ve omitted, comment me up!

What with the spirit of goodwill that’s being bandied around at the moment, I thought it only proper to recognise the achievements of those bands whose albums weren’t quite good enough (or didn’t exist enough) to be included on my end of year album list. So here we go, the unrecognised gems of this fair year of music.

I read this on Condemned To Rock ‘n Roll and liked their answers so much I thought I’d try it myself.

List 10 musical artists (or bands) you like, in no specific order (do this before reading the questions below). Really, don’t read the questions below until you pick your ten artists!!!

1. Radiohead
2. Muse
3. Andrew Bird
4. The White Stripes
5. We Are Scientists
6. Future of the Left
7. Tom Williams & The Boat
8. Johnny Flynn
9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
10. Arcade Fire

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?

‘Manchasm’ – I’d heard a lot about how crazy the band were, but never expected to go on Youtube and find a band sounding like an evil B52s with lyrics about a sound engineer and a cat called Colin. I’ve loved them since.

What is your favorite song of 8?

‘The Wrote and the Writ’ – It’s one of the most perfect pairings of beautiful songwriting with poetry I’ve ever heard.

What kind of impact has 1 left on your life?

They changed my entire musical perspective, opening my eyes to things like intelligent rock to rampant experimentalism and a whole heap in between. I can only fault one of their albums (and let’s be honest Pablo Honey doesn’t really count, does it?) and I think they’re the best band in the world, ever.

What is your favorite lyric of 5?

They’re breaking both my hands
They’re breaking both my hands
And telling me to
Take it like a man
And take it like a man
Well fuck that.

There’s something simultaneously very angry and very vulnerable about that, somehow.

How many times have you seen 4 live?

None, although I’ve seen The Raconteurs once so does that count as ½?

What is your favorite song by 7?

‘Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet’. It’s a little different to their other tracks, a bit more of a downbeat folk track with some very odd lyrics and a beautiful lilt to it, it’s wonderful.

Is there any song by 3 that makes you sad?

I haven’t known of his work for long enough yet to have a real emotional connection to any of it, to be honest.

What is your favorite song by 9?

‘Maps’ – isn’t that everyone’s favourite?

When did you first get into 2?

I think I heard about Muse just before Absolution came out (Wikipedia tells me that’s 2003, making me 14) and went out and bought Showbiz and Origin of Symmetry and bloody loved both of them.

How did you get into 3?

Heard about him on Hype Machine, listened to ‘Tenuousness’ and that was that!

What is your favorite song by 4?

‘Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine’ – Just a raucous slice of guitar brilliance, and so visceral.

How many times have you seen 9 live?

Once, Reading Festival this year. It was brilliant, so brilliant in fact that Thom Yorke did an impromptu mini-cover of ‘Maps’ just before the final song later that night.

What is a good memory concerning 2?

Listening to Origin of Symmetry very loudly with my two best friends when we were all young and impressionable was somewhat wonderful. Seeing them at Wembley Arena wasn’t too bad either.

Is there a song by 8 that makes you sad?

Again, ‘Wrote and the Writ’. The lyrics are purposely slightly obscure, but there seems to be something tragic about the priest figure he mentions.

What is your favorite song by 1?

Frankly, that’s a little impossible to choose. ‘Just’, ’15 Step’, ‘2+2=5’ and ‘Paranoid Android’ all spring to mind, but I already know I’ve missed some.

How did you become a fan of 10?

Shamefully, ‘Funeral’ completely passed me by, and so it took Neon Bible’s amazing reviews to make me take notice, and once I’d heard that there was no going back.

Arcade Fire – Antichrist Television Blues (YSI)
Radiohead – Videotape (YSI) [That’s another favourite…]

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