We debate the hot issues of the day here at For The Rabbits, like is home taping killing music? Should Dylan have gone electric? Was Ringo really not the best drummer in The Beatles?
Well today’s raging issue is sound quality. In the red corner we have Neil Young and in the blue corner we have err Neil Young. Yes, like the pairing of Ryu and Ken on Street Fighter 2, the man fighting the opposite corner would appear to be essentially the same guy you picked.
On the one hand Neil’s launching Pono. Pono is a hideous looking triangular, toblerone like object that massively ups the bit rate of your average MP3, and claims it will “take all the musical goodness of an artist’s studio master recordings and liberate it right into your soul”, which sounds kind of terrifying, but also kind of wonderful. I am basically in favour of this idea; improving the quality of music is obviously a good thing, the closer you can get to listening to it exactly as it sounded to the artist in the studio the better. I do however have some objections. A Pono player alone will not achieve what you want it to achieve, you will also need a brilliant set of headphones or speakers, and you will take away a lot of the accessibility that the MP3 revolution has given the world. It is basically for massive audiophiles, the average person will not care, sorry Neil they just won’t.
And why is Neil in the other corner? He has just released his latest record A Letter Home. It is brilliant! However, it sounds like it was recorded onto vinyl about 70 years ago and has been listened to constantly since then! It was in fact, recorded very recently using Jack White’s Voice-O-Graph recording booth, and while yes, that gives you his much loved analogue sound, you have to actually strain your ears to hear the music over the hiss. Whilst this gimmick actually leads to a wonderful sound, it is certainly not a high quality recorded sound! However I suppose if you were to listen to it on your Pono player, then yes it would sound exactly how Neil Young wanted it to, and maybe that is the point, any step towards music sounding how it is meant to sound is a positive thing, even if they want it to sound like a particularly poorly recorded Robert Johnson demo recording.
Originally the brain child of Joseph Walsh, the bands singer, guitarist and main songwriter. They have now expanded into a full fledged band, Joe being joined by Sam Walsh on guitar (relation unknown, let’s go with brothers), bassist Ben Goodwin, and keyboards and backing vocals from Hayley Akins. The band use a revolving cast of drummers, currently winning the live battle is Philippa Bloomfield, though the latest record features Luke Walsh of Old Forest hitting the skins (again I am going to stick out a limb and assume another brother, everyone is somebodies brother, blood brother or street brother, either way is cool) Continuing a very long introduction to who is in the band confusingly Joseph Walsh is also in Human Hair, who also have a new record coming out in June, and the same PR company as Dignan Porch, so his name is in my inbox most days, it is lucky I like him.
Classic Beatlesian pop music, put through a wonderfully lo-fi recording process. Creating a hazy, little sound that is rather wonderful. Or as the press release puts it “a ramshackle group of perpetually laid-back sounding humans creating music that straddles the lines between psychedelia, folk, indie pop and grunge”, which is a pretty nifty summary.
Well they are from Tooting. Which does not give you a lot to work with, but here are some famous people from Tooting: Paul Merton, the heavy metal band Girlschool and snooker player Jimmy White. I like to think all 3 are major influences, on not just Dignan Porch but everyone.
Dignan Porch (or The Porch as some call them) released their debut album Tendrils back in 2010 on Captured Tracks. It was followed by an EP entitled Deluded in 2011 and then a second long player Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen landed in 2012 again on Captured Tracks. Their brand spanking new album Observatory is the first to be released on a UK label. Brighton based Faux Discx have picked it up, Faux Discx being a home at times to the likes of Omi Palone, Hookworms and This Town Needs Guns. The record is released on June 16th.
Well there press release says “When the Porch kick out the jams they give the impression that they’re careering along with only a couple of wheels still on the road, just about in control, but always on the verge of tipping over” which is kind of awful. However fear not, I will attempt to cut through that and give you the honest truth about The Porch. They write really good pop songs, all catchy melodies and foot tapping rhythms, but produce them to sound a bit like they were recorded upside down in a bathtub (they were actually recorded above a carpet shot), which makes them utterly charming! They are the living proof you do not need a big studio budget to make a good record. They recall the likes of Real Estate and Deerhunter, but also the best bits of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, all coming to make a sound all Dignan Porch’s own.
Because they sound like they were recorded upside down in a bathtub. Again I like this fact, but many will not. If you like fuzzy, lo-fi stuff you will woop and holler, if you are a bit-rate counting, production quality geek, look away now.
Observatory comes out on Faux Discx on June 16th. Dignan Porch have a series of upcoming dates, see their website for details