We had a great day playing at Badlands record store in Cheltenham for National Record Store Day.
The brilliant Boat to Row featured on our charity Christmas album For Folks Sake Its Christmas 2012 and their EP Loyal Light is out now. We asked them to give us the low down on the record and heres what they said… Mike: For me, lyrically speaking…
The wonderful folks at For Folk’s Sake were kind enough to talk to Michael and Ben about the making of Loyal Light.
Disclaimer: This is not a ten minute review. I’m a fraud and a cheat. I just need a little longer.
I last listened to vinyl in 2002 when I went University. I left my record player behind at home and not long later bought an Ipod. I straddle the generations that made mix tapes for…
We are very excited to announce our up coming May tour with the splendid Hot Feet!
After such a long time in hibernation, writing new material, we are delighted to get back out there and play it to you.
We have a special show planned for our home town of Birmingham, more information will be announced throughout the week!
26/05 - O2 Academy Birmingham ’Boat to Row & Friends’
27/05 - Night & Day Cafe, Manchester
28/05 - The Louisiana, Bristol w/ Charlie Parr
30/05 - Red Rooms @ THE RESCUE ROOMS, Nottingham
31/05 - The Cookie Jar, Leicester
01/06 - The labour club Northampton
Let us know what shows you’re coming down to and help spread the word!
Big thanks goes to Lize Meddings for designing the lovely poster.
Ford Fiestas and Fionn Regan
I first heard 100 Acres of Sycamore whilst jammed between the window of Wolfgang (Ben’s tiny green fiesta) and Billy’s left shoulder. Billy, in turn, was jammed against a pile of instruments protruding from the boot. We had worked out an arrangement by which, if I sat forward and he sat back, we could fit both of our shoulders in with only moderate discomfort and Billy could fall asleep with his head on the banjo case. We were on our way back from Wheelan’s festival in Dublin, following the North Wales coast with our eyes peeled for a holy grail for service stations (Costa and an M&S you say?!).
I thought the voice was a woman’s. Maybe it was because we were driving through Wales that I imagined the austere loneliness of the Black Mountains; misty lakes and abandoned stone cottages, sung by someone called Ffion. Still, there’s something in the texture of his voice that could suggest either gender, which I think is one of the beauties of it.
There’s something intensely lonely and about 100 Acres of Sycamore, the opening track of that record. It begins with a rising motif of unison strings, settling into a brooding minor key opening for the vocals. Lyrically, it sweeps you through a panorama of landscape and sets you down, disorientated, in the tangle of the mind. They merge seamlessly: “Is there anyone there / But the four black winds blowing through the eaves of your mind?” and my favourite lyric: “Rise up from the black ships that sail through the swan of your heart”. The notion that the mind, like the landscape that’s conjured up, is a scary unknowable place appeals; as does the suggestion that it’s possible to transcend or “rise up” and escape the darkness, to “let the four black winds be gone from the eaves of my mind”.
After I’d listened to that record approximately (and fittingly) one hundred times, I discovered a song called Salt and Cloves from a 2012 release, The Bunkhouse Vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo. I knew I’d like it just from the title, which evoked something medieval, something to do with preserving, and death. It’s a simple fragile little song, arranged just for voice and guitar. As well as having a gorgeous melody, lyrically I think it’s quite wonderful. For me it beautifully encapsulates the idea of momento mori (that’s Latin for: remember that you will die). It sounds a bit macabre, I know, but I think that this is what makes the song so good. In Salt and Cloves, images of death (salt, darkness, halos, grief) and the ordinary details of life (possessions, moving, rags, brambles) are boldly layered. Rags and halos exist in the same breath. “A holy ground” is found behind the eyes of another. There’s nothing to fear in death or whatever comes after it, if anything at all. Like the landscape and the Self in 100 Acres, they merge seamlessly. “Sapphires in the brambles” speaks to me of something durable and precious hidden in the ordinariness of life, but one that is aware of its brevity. There is also something important to do with hidden things in this song; what you reveal about yourself to others and what stays private, but it hasn’t clarified for me yet. I suppose that means that I’ll have to listen to it AGAIN. Oh well.
It’s a really special experience to find an artist that inspires or speaks to you. We at camp BTR are constantly sharing and swapping music, and even more so now that we’re in writing mode. Let us know what you’ve discovered recently – we’d love to hear it!
We had the opportunity to play a cover with Dr. G Photography whilst on tour last year at the Sebright Arms in London. We chose one of our favorite Willy Mason songs, ‘We Can Be Strong’
Hope we do it justice xx
The second bootleg of ours, recorded by the splendid Drew Coleman last month when we support Lucy Anne Sale at St Mary Magdalen’s Church in Coventry.
To play in such a beautiful room makes it all the more special when we listen back to it, we hope you agree!