From times of great suffering comes great music?
I have been suffering people. Well actually, I haven’t, but Cameron Neal has. The lovably bearded frontman of Horse Thief has come down with a bout of illness that has sadly rendered them unable to come over to the UK this week for dates at Oslo & the Dot2Dot Festival. Very sad news as I was rather excited about seeing those chaps in full flow, they will be back though don’t worry yourselves people!
It is not the first time I have had tickets to a gig snatched away by the cruel hand of fate. I was going to the Ryan Adams tour when he fell off the stage and broke his wrist; by all accounts he was a rambling, drunken mess that tour, but in a way isn’t that how you want Ryan Adams?
Well anyhow, enough of the suffering, what is this great music bit? Well, I happened to glance down the bill of the Horse Thief show and I saw a couple of names I hadn’t heard before; bands I haven’t heard before on a Bella Union night? Well that can only end well, so for the first (and possibly last) time I have commissioned a double bill of new band business, that’s right it’s a New To Me – New To You double header/face-off/fight till the death (delete as appropriate).
THE TROUBLE WITH TEMPLETON
The Trouble With Templeton (TTWT) are a five-piece. Thomas Calder is the vocalist, guitarist and creator of this whole shebang. He is joined by Hugh Middleton (lead guitar, BVs), Betty Yeowart (keys, BVs), Sam Pankhurst (bass) and Ritchie Daniell (drums).
Somewhat melancholic, alternative rock. A vocal that sits somewhere between Thom Yorke, and that bloke from Turin Brakes. Songs that sound like they were written on acoustic guitars, then have been beefed up with a full band sound.
They are from Australia, Brisbane to be precise. Making them neighbours of Savage Garden and Gina G, so I’m guessing they branched out a bit for their influences.
They were formed in 2011, by “wunderkind” (their websites word not mine) Thomas Calder. He started by recording a mini-album called Bleeders in his home, apparently (again according to the bands own website) “even the most cursory airings” will “leave the listener in no doubt that this boy is special.” Following on from that, the band expanded to a five-piece and they recorded Rookie, their debut album proper. It has been out for a while in Australia, but has now been picked up by Bella Union here, who released it earlier this month.
Because there are some great songs on Rookie. Take Secret Pastures, an acoustic lament, with a haunting echo laden vocal, if someone told me it was Radiohead’s follow up to True Love Waits, it would take me a while to realise they were lying, and I wouldn’t even mind that much when I found out. It takes a really good singer to carry such an emotive tone, but Thomas is a really good singer. It is also a highly eclectic album, floating around all the various strands of alternative-rock, there’s hints of Millagres here, a bit of Bon Iver there, it’s a constantly interesting listen, if quite a heavy one.
The simple fact the track Like A Kid exists is a shame, it sounds a lot like Backstreet Boys! It has no place on this otherwise excellent set of songs. There is also the feeling that perhaps they should settle down on one style and really hone it, it sounds a bit like a compilation of every idea they could think of. That said there is such great potential here, there is the real feeling that given two or three albums they might do something very special indeed.
This five-piece consist of singer Katrina Ford, Ed Harris on bass, Matt Pierce on keys, guitarist Woody Ranere and drummer Mike Lowry.
Vocals like Anna Calvi, over beautifully melodic guitars and keys, paired with some wonderfully energetic drums and brilliant bass playing. Musically there is a touch of latter day Radiohead and a smattering of Beach House at their most energetic. The whole thing together sounds a bit like Melody’s Echo Chamber with the reverb turned down.
They’re from Baltimore. If TTWT are about the only good thing from Brisbane, then Baltimore is incredibly rich right now. The like of Cass McCombs, Wye Oak and indeed Beach House all having some claim to the city.
The band only formed in November 2012. They released their self titled debut ep in January on Bella Union, which is pretty good going.
Because they are good, in fact they are really good. A voice that can soar like a Bond diva but also carries the quieter parts along beautifully with its in built sense of melody. Musically they have a wonderful sense of melody that are also underpinned by some stunning drums. They are a new band but sound fully formed, and ready to be a huge deal. Fans of Howling Bells who are wondering what they are up too now wont be disappointed.
Err, there is not a lot to criticise really. They have only got one EP and it is all rather good, so nope can’t see any reason why not I’m afraid, you will just have to listen to them, sorry about that.
The Trouble With Templeton’s album Rookie is out on Bella Union now.
Mt.Royal’s self-titled debut EP is out on Bella Union now,
Both bands play at Oslo in Hackney tomorrow night, tickets are available on the door. All tickets previously held for Horse Thief are being refunded