Thursday, 31 January 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: Frankie and The Heartstrings - Ungrateful

From 2011, here's Frankie and The Heartstrings. The album 'Hunger' was produced by Edwyn Collins, and was recorded at his West Heath Studios, in London. 

My review of the album from 2011 can be found HERE. 'Ungrateful' is without a doubt one of the standout tracks from the LP. the band are expected to release their second album this year...


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PREVIEW: Public Service Broadcasting - Inform - Educate - Entertain - upcoming album

Public Service Broadcasting's music is where the past meets the future. I've had my eye on this lot for a while now, and following last year's brilliant 'Everest' single and some impressive EPs, I'm glad to hear their debut full-length is ready for release. It's hard to sum up their musical style, without a doubt they provide a refreshing and unique sound that has to be heard... 

The duo sample old public information films and archive material and set them to new music. Live, the films are screened simultaneously as laptops are fiddled with, drums are pounded, theremins are wafted at, guitars are bashed and banjos furiously plucked. Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future. 

Ahead of the release of the album and next single 'Signal 30' (out 15th April) the band are offering a beefed-up reworking of old favourite 'New Dimensions In Sound' as a free download. Expounding the virtues of newly-invented stereophonic sound - 'a feeling of life and nearness in the music' - this dramatic track of two halves serves as a two-channel taster of what to expect from the album. 

You can download the track for free and watch the video for ‘New Dimensions In Sound’ from the links below: 
http://bit.ly/newdimensions 
http://bit.ly/newdimensionsvideo 

 J. Willgoose, Esq. and his drumming companion Wrigglesworth will embark on a mammoth 46-date tour of the UK in late February, March and May in support of their upcoming single and album. Confirmed summer festival slots include Wickerman and Wychwood with many more yet to be announced.

http://publicservicebroadcasting.net/
http://facebook.com/publicservicebroadcasting 
http://twitter.com/psb_hq 


 
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: Doyle And The Fourfathers - 'Dark Times, Luminous People'

Doyle And The Fourfathers were a Southampton-based band who I first heard in early 2011 playing a session for Marc Riley's BBC 6Music show. In fact this track here was one of the ones I heard that night, and encouraged me to buy their debut album 'Man Made'. 

Sadly, it was to be their first and last long-player, since the band parted ways with each other last year. 

Frontman William Doyle is now working on music for his new solo project East India Youth...



Tuesday, 29 January 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: Deaf Club - Break It Slow

A band who are one of my big hopes for 2013. Deaf Club introduced themselves to me with their wonderful single 'Moving Still', which was released last year on the Too Pure Singles Club. 

The brilliant 'Break It Slow' was released a few months ago, and can be still be downloaded for free via their Bandcamp page. A few weeks ago the band announced that they were recording new material and that they would have "a little something" ready for release in 2013...


http://deafclub.bandcamp.com/

http://www.deafclubmusic.co.uk/

http://www.facebook.com/deafclubmusic

https://twitter.com/DEAFCLUBmusic






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Monday, 28 January 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils - Jackie Blue


A track I first heard when it was covered by AM And Shawn Lee on their 'Celestial Electric' album... The Ozark Mountain Daredevils are a Southern rock/country rock band formed in 1972 in Springfield, Missouri, USA. They are most widely known for their singles "If You Wanna Get To Heaven" in 1974 and "Jackie Blue" in 1975. The Daredevils are also mentioned in the "Don's Story" chapter of American humorist David Sedaris' book Barrel Fever. Bassist Michael "Supe" Granda has also written a book about the band, It Shined.


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LISTEN TO: Eels - Wonderful, Glorious - new album


The Eels are releasing a brand new album 'Wonderful, Glorious' on February 5th 2013. Scroll down to listen to the new tracks 'Peach Blossom', 'New Alphabet' and non album track 'Calling For Your Love', the main title song from the new Cirque du Soleil "WORLDS AWAY" film. More info at www.worldsaway3d.com/

(UPDATE: You can now stream the whole album in full via the media player below)

You can pre-order Standard CD, 26 track Deluxe CD, or Double Orange vinyl LP from here, as well as limited edition bundles: http://eelstheband.com/stores.php

Pre-Order on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/wonderfulglorious



Released by: Vagrant Records 


01   bombs away
02   kinda fuzzy
03   accident prone
04   peach blossom
05   on the ropes
06   the turnaround
07   new alphabet
08   stick together
09   true original
10   open my present
11   you're my friend
12   i am building a shrine
13   wonderful, glorious

DELUXE EDITION BONUS DISC
01   hold on to your hat
02   your mama warned you
03   i'm your brave little soldier
04   there's something strange
05   happy hour (we're gonna rock)
06   that's not really funny (live 2011)
07   in my dreams (live 2010)
08   prizefighter (live 2010)
09   looking up (live 2011)
10   what I have to offer (live at KEXP)
11   i like the way this is going (live at KEXP)
12   12 spectacular girl (live at KEXP)
13   summer in the city (live at KEXP)





  






"I guess you could say I needed space -- literally and figuratively."
That's EELS leader Mark Oliver Everett, aka E, sitting in the performance room of EELS' Los Feliz, CA recording studio, talking about how he felt after the rapid release of a trilogy of albums and embarking on two world tours all within the short span of just over a year's time. "That was an all-consuming endeavor. After that I knew it was time to get away from anything that had to do with the last few years in order to get to the next place," he says now. "I was in an expansive mood. After twelve years recording in the same cramped basement studio, I felt the need to spread out and give myself more room to breathe and experiment." 

After 2005's BLINKING LIGHTS AND OTHER REVELATIONS double album there followed four years with no new EELS studio releases. That dry spell was broken with what became one of the busiest periods in the EELS timeline, beginning with the release of HOMBRE LOBO in 2009, the first of a trilogy of albums including END TIMES and TOMORROW MORNING, while the band embarked on two world tours, playing over 100 shows throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and China. Nearly a year after the completion of the second tour the refreshed and reinvigorated band assembled to make new music. 

Having moved into a new studio, Everett was inspired. "I was now in a situation where instead of just a basement to record in, I had an entire house to use for musical needs," he says. The new studio, dubbed "The Compound," was designed to fulfill a myriad of artistic needs, outfitted from basement to attic for any musical situation that may arise. "It was exciting," he says. "It filled me with hope for limitless possibilities. And I realized I'd had a similar feeling when I first put the band together for the last two tours." 

"On the tours it was apparent to me that this was the best band I'd ever been involved with," Everett, who has continuously rotated the personnel of the touring EELS from year to year, says now. "Night after night I'd throw them every curve ball I could think of and they'd always hit it out of the park, as the saying goes. We played a lot of stuff from the TOMORROW MORNING album, which was very electronic and keyboard-oriented on record -- without a single keyboard or sampler on stage. They made it all work as a live band, and work great. It made sense that it was time to pool our talents for making new music." 

"We got together with no specific concept in mind other than being open to experimentation," he says. "The only rule I had was 'let's try it.' If anyone in the room had an idea, I'd say 'let's try it', no matter how bad the idea may have sounded to me at the time. I was often proven wrong, and I don't mind being wrong in the name of getting somewhere good." 

The resulting album WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS is rich in highly creative, unprecedented songs. "I don't know what to compare a lot of these songs to," Everett says. "They're their own thing, you know? We were all really excited with what we were making." 

EELS' tenth album is brimming with life and the tribulations that make it worthwhile -- the trials of a man fighting for his life, his sanity, and the search for meaning. From the quiet man pushed too far by modern life's increasing incivility in album opener "Bombs Away" to the title track's sublime acceptance at album's close, WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS offers the listener a vibrant and dynamic journey. 

A number of the album's tracks come from the point of view of a man who has found himself at a crossroads in his life. Everett says that's no coincidence. Having written his autobiography (2008's acclaimed THINGS THE GRANDCHILDREN SHOULD KNOW), made the award-winning PARALLEL WORLDS, PARALLEL LIVES documentary about his quantum physicist father Hugh Everett III, compiled a best of EELS (MEET THE EELS) and rarities collection (USELESS TRINKETS), and released an album trilogy, Everett felt backed into a figurative corner. 

Every time i find myself in this old bind
Watching the death of my hopes
In the ring so long 
Gonna prove 'em wrong
I'm not knocked out but I'm on the ropes
- "On The Ropes" 

The tragedies of Everett's life have been well-documented since the release of 1998's ELECTRO-SHOCK BLUES, an album dealing with the deaths of his entire immediate family. If nothing else, Everett's tumultuous past has taught him how to survive. "If something isn't working, I know it's time to reinvent my world so it works," he says. "Losing my family early taught me how to look at what's left and make the most of it." 

You're all gonna be sorry
When I leave town
And get it together
For the turnaround
- "The Turnaround" 

It's looking good
I dug my way out
I'm changing up what the story's about 

When the words just sound like noise
I need a new alphabet
When the world stops making sense
I make a new alphabet
- "New Alphabet" 

"Doing all of those career and life-defining projects at an earlier age than most artists do was really satisfying and very beneficial to me personally," Everett says. "But afterwards, once the dust settled, I found myself in the position of having to ask myself 'now what?' That was the last chapter of my book: 'Now What?' I didn't know the answer. But I'm a fighter and I knew I wasn't going to give up easily. Ultimately, I found the answer in the four guys sharing the stage with me." 

Those guys, guitarists The Chet and P-Boo, bass player Koool G Murder and drummer Knuckles, each a multi-instrumentalist well beyond their main instruments, all had a hand in the writing of WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS. "Even the drummer has become a songwriter. Anything is possible!" Everett jokes. 

Good will abounds on WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, and it's all the more meaningful because of how hard-earned it is. Everett doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of life, "for the cause of getting to the lighter," he says. Over the course of the album he goes from being scared and confused, trying to fight his way out of the corner ("Bombs Away", "Kinda Fuzzy") to a man who recognizes the good around him ("Accident Prone", "Peach Blossom"), who accepts his worthiness of it and is ready to enjoy life's spoils ("Open My Present"), while realizing how invaluable the help of others has been to him ("Stick Together", "You're My Friend"), and ultimately coming to terms with mortality ("I Am Building a Shrine"): 

Deep down in the cold ground
Such a sad place to be
But I'll be fine with all the little things
That I'm taking with me 

"It's all any of us can do," says Everett. "Either you don't try and just let life go by, or you give it a shot and let the bombs drop and try to put a positive spin on it, all while hoping for the best. Every day you've got a choice." 

In the end, Everett finds what he's been searching for -- the good will within his own heart. When he wails the triumphant clarion call at albums' end, knowing the rocky road his past took him on, it's impossible to not feel hopeful. Now able to make sense of it all, he sings: 

My love is beautiful and it's here for the taking
It's strong and pure
And utterly earth-shaking
My love has brought me here to show you it's true
A wretch like me can make it through 

More info:
www.EELStheband.com

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Friday, 25 January 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #2

Written by Ben P Scott for God Is In The TV.

The column where Ben P Scott recommends great new music, gives his opinions on current topics and then rewinds to relive the sounds of his past. This week he is fuming at dire X Factor boyband JLS being named the UK's hardest working group, gives his thoughts on new records from New Order and The Courteeners, and recommends more top quality music. Then in the second half, he recalls his musical memories and some of the terrible chart hits from 1993...

I've never seen as much as a penny for my writing. I do it because there's great music out there that needs to be heard. So as you can understand, it's VERY annoying when the great artists who make that music are ignored by the industry in favour of the disposable guff that we see in the singles charts.

They may be the main contenders for the Useless Fuckwits Of The Year award, but are reality show boyband JLS really the hardest working group of the last year? Some clown at the PRS seems to think so. When I first read this news, I actually had to double check the article, since I couldn't believe what I had just read. JLS? Surely that's some sort of mistake? Someone is having a laugh. And worse still, they're having a laugh at the expense of the same musicians who already have to work harder to get their music heard, since the radio and TV is dominated by low quality trash like JLS.

It's a fucking insult to every hard working musician out there. You guys do more hard work in three minutes than what these useless puppets will EVER do in their lives. They got instant fame and free publicity by appearing on a karaoke show, had some bad songs written for them by other people, had all the instruments on those songs played by other people, and their vocals autotuned. They have a massive marketing department making sure they're everywhere like a bad smell. and that's hard work is it? PRS hang your heads in shame. Whatever happened to supporting MUSICIANS?

The PRS is supposed to recognise songwriters and musicians, not novelty acts from karaoke shows. They are nothing more than the public faces of a heavily marketed product, who think that singing other people's songs in a boring, generic fashion makes them "artists". Don't these manufactured acts get enough publicity as it is? Shouldn't an organisation like the PRS be rewarding and recognising creative people who don't see hard work as a chore? They write, perform and record because making music is what they love doing. JLS don't even make music. They wouldn't know how to.

Nigel Clark runs an open mic night in Pershore, and also teaches disadvantaged children the magic of music. But he is best known as the frontman of Dodgy. Made with their own money, the band's latest album (the excellent Stand Upright In A Cool Place) was recorded in Nigel's home studio and released via the tiny independent label Strikeback Records. Because of a lack of support from the mainstream press, the band promoted the album themselves via the internet, with some good friends and loyal fans also helping spread the word. This was also the case when publicising the release of the album's two singles and a limited edition northern soul-inspired 7". In 2012 they played over 50 gigs, ranging from festivals to record shops. Nigel said: "Hold the fuck on... since when were JLS a band? They are a vocal quartet at best.... If the PRS didn't pay me my royalties, I wouldve blocked them by now...". He added: "Its PRS I'm disappointed in. Making up a stupid award and then giving it to a group that isn't even a band?
Beggars belief!" 

Meanwhile Ultrasound bassist Vanessa Best commented "Lets see how they handle getting a Hammond organ in and out of their limo wherever they go! Pah!". Monika Domone said "JLS wouldn't recognise hard work if it bit them in the backside. As far as I can see, they've had everything handed to them on a silver plate."

The person or people who made this ridiculous decision should be named, shamed and forced to apologise personally to EVERY single musician in the UK, from the prolific rock stars to the street buskers. I've launched a petition for the PRS to revoke JLS's award and present it to some deserving musicians instead. But they probably won't revoke the award because admitting they were wrong will make them feel as stupid as they look. But we must all sign this petition to let these idiots know that music fans do not take kindly to the musicians we love being insulted like this. Then hopefully they won't do it again next year. The petition is HERE. Go on, sign it!

This week's edition of RW/FF was going to feature my thoughts on the current situation with HMV, but the section that i've written turned out to be longer than expected, and if I included it this week, there wouldn't have been room for most of the other material in this column, so that WILL be coming next week. I know I also said this last week, but hopefully next week we'll know more about the store's future. At the moment restructuring firm Hilco has purchased HMV’s £176m worth of debt, but is not thought to own the company yet. Though it's said that they only want to keep half of the 230 stores and perhaps sell the rest off, which would be a shame.

In some more positive news, the excellent Thought Forms have been voted winners of this week's BBC 6Music Rebel Playlist, so congratulations to Deej, Charlie and Guy. I'm chuffed about this not just because of the fact that their music is brilliant but also because me and the band are from the same little Wiltshire town of Melksham. My full review of their upcoming 'Ghost Mountain' LP will be coming soon. On the subject of voting for things, the Spiral Awards recognises all that's good in the world of folk music. Nick Burbridge has been writing and recording for many years now, and collaborated with Tim Cotterell on last year's splendid LP 'Gathered', one of the finest folk albums you're likely to hear. Listen to the album HERE (where you can also read my review) and then go HERE to vote for Nick in the Best Songwriter category. You don't have to log in or sign up for anything, just one click and you can help this UK folk legend get the recognition he deserves.

So the third week of 2013, and the UK is covered in snow. A good excuse to stay in and listen to more new music. One example being New Order's 'Lost Sirens', the mini album of tracks that didn't make 2005's 'Waiting For The Siren's Call'The mysterious and elegant 'Recoil' is superb, while the lovely 'I Got A Feeling' and a different (not to mention superior) Velvet Underground-esque version of 'I Told You So' are my two other favourites. Two slightly duff tracks and some frustratingly uninspired lyrics stop 'Lost Sirens' from being as great as it could have been. But if you combine the highlights of this mini-LP with the best moments from '...Siren's Call', you end up with a GREAT album. You can read my 3 out of 5 review of it HERE.

'Anna', the third full length from The Courteeners features some impressive indie pop. Opener In Love With A Notion is exactly how this sort of thing should be done, complete with an addictive singalong chorus, while the single 'Lose Control' provides a tasty slice of moody indie disco. These are two tunes that have been playing in my head from time to time this last week or so. But aside from a couple of other tracks, i'm not that keen on the rest of 'Anna'. And you can find out why in my review HERE. It has a song called 'Save Rosemary In Time' for a start...

Unusually named Swindon-based Nudybronque (apparently derived from nudibranch, a sea slug) make a melodic kind of indie that is developing nicely with a rather brilliant new track. 'Allsorts' is a simple, subtly romantic tune that's capable of sticking in your head for a while. Think The Crookes and Frankie And The Heartstrings with a little hint of The Smiths, gradually leading to a full throated climax towards the end. It's part of a currently unfinished EP due for release later in the year, but until then you can hear 'Allsorts' HERE.

The legendary Edwyn Collins has a new LP out soon, it's called 'Understated' and you can find more info and hear a track from it HERE. It's out in March and I will no doubt be talking about it in future columns once i've had a listen.

Something I mentioned last week that I HAVE to mention again is I Am Kloot's stunning new album 'Let It All In', where every single song is a winner. It's the sound of a band at the very top of their game, and this time I think they may have made a classic. It's also going to take them to new heights. I know I can't stop playing it, that's for sure. It's out now, so pop down to your local record shop or if you're not lucky enough to have such a thing, order it from the band's website. I also had the pleasure of speaking to Kloot frontman and songwriter John Bramwell about the album and a few other things. You can read that interview HERE.

There's another unreleased Noel Gallagher song doing the rounds on the internet. It goes by the name of 'Oh Lord', and as you'd expect from The Chief, it's a work of sheer brilliance. Listen to that one HERE.

I'm also enjoying a recent album by Dancing Suns, which was recommended to me by my friends from Ireland, Queen Elvis (who themselves have a new record out soon). I think i'll talk more about Dancing Suns next week. It's nice. As well as those I've been listening to various Fall albums from the 90's, and 'Wake Up', the 1995 album from the Boo Radleys that I still don't think is as good as 'Giant Steps' or 'Kingsize'. Plus new tracks on my mp3 playlist from Atoms For Peace, Eels, the Dirty Rivers, Foals and lots of other bands who don't work as hard as JLS.

Remember this is a weekly column, so DO come back same time, same place next week for more rants and recommendations. Now it's time for the RW part of the column where I step into my time machine... Last week I revealed my earliest musical memories and confessed the darkest musical sins of my early 90's childhood. This week I take another trip to the confession box and reveal more terrible crimes... Warning: this article contains Shaggy...

It's 1993 and i'm 8 years old. The radio is full of shite, and it's impossible to hear anything good. And if you don't hear what's good, you don't know what's good... Rather like the kids of today in fact, although not quite as bad.


Thanks to his appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, I started listening to George Michael, and became keen on his 'Faith' album, which I had a vinyl copy of. Rather naff yes, but what a catchy title track, and slightly less ridiculous than the stuff he did with Wham! (whose 'Make It Big' was a vinyl LP I also owned)... A compilation tape I can't remember the title of, featuring various reggae tracks, ranging from old classics (which were awesome) to the watered down pop reggae that was briefly popular in the early 90s (which definitely was not awesome). That particular brand of fake rasta-pop must have struck a chord with me at the time though, since I was once the not-so-proud owner of a 7" copy of Chaka Demus and Pliers' awful cover of 'Twist and Shout'. Plus for one of my birthdays I actually asked for and got bought a 12" copy of Shaggy's 'Oh Carolina'... I'm so glad Britpop wasn't too far away...

Then there is a vague memory of the beginning of a turning point, not just for me but for music in general... In 1993, while my Dad was doing building work on my Auntie's old house in Southwick, Wiltshire, I was sat in his old transit van listening to a cassette of the 1993 Brit Awards, recorded from radio or TV the night before. It was then that I heard Suede for the first time, thinking it was the same group that did 'Cum On Feel The Noize'. I soon realised my error and was suddenly intrigued by this new band with this new sound. There was something freaky about them and I liked it. I also liked Peter Gabriel's 'Steam', and began listening to some of his Best Of album 'Shaking The Tree' that my Mum had just bought on CD.

But that still didn't stop me from experimenting with some seriously dodgy music during my childhood. I can remember a family holiday to Andorra and the music played during the drive, plus some of the stuff I had on my Walkman while tackling the Andorran ski slopes. The music I heard a lot of during this holiday included a tape of Erasure's greatest hits. An awful group who made appalling songs, but I suppose it was an early indication of my future fondness for electro music. 

The holiday to Andorra involved a long drive through France and I do recall some of the music that accompanied this journey.... A cassette copy of 'The Freddie Mercury Album' (which represented the very worst side of the man), 'Take That And Party' (they didn't seem so dismal to an 8 year old)... A tape of Eric Clapton's 'Journeyman'... what sort of 8 year old would listen to this? I can't remember if it was actually mine or if it belonged to my parents.


A far better option was my cassette of The Shamen's 'Boss Drum' album, which my Dad also held a fondness for, and a tape ever present on my Walkman while I attempted to ski. My Dad also claimed to have once met Mr C from The Shamen while while watching The Orb live. Then finally there was a cassette of Brian May's abysmal solo album, which probably was one of mine given my liking for Queen... 

But as I said in last week's column, all the tapes and records I owned at that point were either bought for me as presents or home-recorded copies of stuff, and the first record I actually went out and bought myself was still a while off yet. The hotel we stayed at was owned by my Auntie Susan (the same Auntie with the house in Southwick) and her husband Dave, and a great place it was too. They had a stereo system that played music in the bar, dining room and the little radios in the rooms, and all I remember hearing on it was Cher's Greatest Hits. While in the shops I can recall hearing Lenny Kravitz's 'Are You Gonna Go My Way', 'Run To You' by dance act Rage, and 'Be My Baby' by the singer Vanessa Paradis.

Also present with us on this holiday were my Dad's mate Brian Cooper and his family. Brian was the singer in a local covers band called Footloose, who played a mixture of 50's rock n roll numbers and AOR hits. One of my Dad's other close mates Paul Francis was the drummer, and was pretty damn good from what I can remember. One night in 1993 or possibly 1994, they played at the Trowbridge Rugby Club, where I ended up being invited up to sing Queen's 'I Want To Break Free' with them. Thanks to Brian, I started dreaming of one day singing in my own band and entering the world of rock n roll... But although the rest of 1993 would result in me owning more hideous records, things started to change later in the year... 

But although the rest of 1993 would result in me owning more hideous records, things started to change later in the year. Find out about that next week...

SONG FOR TODAY: The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist


"Frontier Psychiatrist" is a song by Australian electronic dance music group The Avalanches. The song was produced by group members Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann, under their production alias Bobbydazzler, for the group's debut album Since I Left You. The song is built around many sampled elements, much like other tracks from its parent album, including prominent vocal samples of comedy duo Wayne and Shuster and an orchestral background sourced from an Enoch Light version of the composition "My Way of Life" (1968).

It was released on 21 August 2000 as the second single from Since I Left You. Upon release, it peaked at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart and number 49 in the group's native Australia, becoming their first single to enjoy commercial success. "Frontier Psychiatrist" was well received by music critics, who praised the Avalanches' utilization of samples in making the song.



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Thursday, 24 January 2013

INTERVIEW: I Am Kloot's John Bramwell

It's mid January afternoon and it's snowing. I've been outside and built my own snowcat, but now I'm indoors in the warm, listening to a stunning little song called 'Some Better Day'. It's a poignant moment of introspection that has actually moved me to tears recently. But it's one of those sad songs that somehow makes you smile. Utterly heartwarming and as charming as anything you'll ever hear, right now 'Some Better Day' makes a lovely soundtrack to the white winter scenery outside. Today I'm lucky enough to be talking to one of the three men responsible for this wonderful song, which you can find on I Am Kloot's new album 'Let It All In'. The man is question is John Bramwell, the band's frontman and songwriter, who is also liking the unusual weather...

Hello John! How's it going mate?
"Great yeah, I'm enjoying the snow actually!"

Oh yes, me too. People moan about it, but I like it.
"Well my day today is inside on the phone so it's perfect for me. I'm looking out now, ah there it is, very pretty. And not having to deal with it in any way, just loving it, but I will be going to be going sledging this weekend no doubt..."

So if any readers think they might have seen the singer from one of the UK's best bands zooming past on a sledge, you might not be hallucinating. The new album Let It All In really is an incredible album, a record that I can't seem to stop listening too. It's also the band's finest and most complete work yet.
"Well thanks for saying that, I like everything we've done but I've only just listened to it recently. Because after we've finished recording I don't listen to them, I need that break so I can get to a point where I can try and listen to it like anybody else, so I had to lay off for a while. But we were doing a video the other day, and when all three of us were driving back we went "come on, let's put it on". And we were chuffed. We were very chuffed. So we'd not listened to it for two or three months. But I like it. It's got an instantness and I think it's still got some things that grow as well, and yeah... I'm chuffed."

And so you should be Sir. From start to end, every track is a winner. With iTunes and the rise of single-track downloads, there's been talk that people don't care about full albums as much as they used to. As a band, do you still believe in the power of an album as an art form?
"I think that's been key with us. We believe in that so strongly, for us that is what it's all about. That and the moments on stage when there's a connection with the audience. They are the two things. And everything else is about making those two things work, the album and the gig. We've always felt like that, yeah. And I suppose in a way we're kind of out of step with things but maybe not, we'll see. The game's not over yet! But you know we had the Mercury nomination, and that prize there isn't about best band or best song, it's about what they think is the best album. To be honest it's automatic the way we think, it's not even open for discussion."

So did that Mercury nomination and the success of 'Sky At Night' perhaps give you a boost in confidence that may have had an impact on this album?
"Well I can only talk about that in a kind of an unconscious way. I play guitar every day, I sit and just enjoy playing but most songs that I write don't occur then, they occur when I'm out driving or walking. I always have my Walkman with me. So if I'm driving and something comes, I just carry on singing it over and over and recording in my head what lyrics come to me. Drive round, come back and work it out. And the songs that I've written this time, I'm not conscious of what key they're in until I get home really. Most of them have been in a major key, which is a more uplifting key than the minor. And I did wonder if that IS because of the things that happened with Sky At Night. Subconsciously I'm writing something that's... not quite upbeat I suppose, but in a major key. I know I went around the houses there to answer that, but maybe it HAS given me a lift in ways I didn't realise, you know?"



In your own words, describe the new LP to someone who hasn't heard it yet...

"Well, it's bookended by two songs, 'Bullets' and 'Forgive Me These Reminders', which have an almost haunted vaudeville feel of a lot of our previous stuff. That's the bookends, and then we go into songs where really I've brought my strongest melodies here for this album. We've got colour from a little bit of harmonium, a little bit of trumpet, a little bit of organ here and there, just little touches of colour, but mainly it is guitar, voice, bass and drums. I've had to bring forward the strong melodies, much like we did on our first album I think, songs like Mouth On Me, Masquerade and Some Better Day. And then punctuating this kind of uplift and freshness that we captured is the two big dramatic moments of These Days Are Mine and Hold Back The Night. 

Because we've been playing over 12 years, we recorded Hold Back The Night in one go, really let it loose, and we were able to do that because of the amount of time we've been playing together I think. It's quite a big dramatic piece. So there's something about the freshness of our very first record in this, but with a little bit more assurance that's come from just the three of us knowing each other so well now after all this time. And I think my lyrics are still in a similar place to where we've been before, I've written about the present day a lot more than on Sky At Night, which was a reflective album. But this major key thing going on, there's a more uplifted feel in the key of the songs than before, so there's kind of an optimism there. Talking about kind of alienation and things such as that, but with this feeling of hope I suppose... (Laughs) That's a book that answer!"

A bit of a long one yes! So during the making of 'Let It All In', were there any albums you've been listening to that perhaps influenced the record?
 "Well I think my influences happened to me when I was a kid. The White Album was on a lot, and it's a very sprawling, enormous and eclectic thing. That was on all the time when I was about 5, just before I started playing guitar and in a way that one album with its complete strangeness, sometimes very catchy songs, sometimes out and out weirdness like Revolution 9, which is cut and paste 'musique concrete' as they call it. In a way I use music as a distraction away from my own music, it's quite odd I suppose, that. But I had a lovely album on by a band called Lord Huron which they released at the end of last year, and I was lucky enough to get an early copy of it. That's a fantastic thing that I heard, a very uplifting record. And then there's a new band in Manchester called Olympian, and I've had that on loop on the Walkman when I'm going about. I wouldn't say they've influenced the LP, in fact both those records don't sound anything like ours, or even that kind of songwriting. But I think they kept me in an atmosphere that was good."

Nice. Two bands I must check out.
"Yes, do mention them, they're very good."



Do you still buy vinyl? If so can you recommend any good record shops?
"I do like vinyl, and I go to Piccadilly Records in Manchester. And obviously I did used to go to the HMV here in Crewe, but I go to Piccadilly Records when I have my trips to Manchester and I usually pick up a couple of things on vinyl. My Dad gave me his old music centre that he bought in 1972, a big old proper music centre with lovely old valves. And the records just sound really great on it. And then I suppose luckily for me, the newer stuff I get from the people who put out our records out in Europe. They release a lot of artists, they're a kind of umbrella music group, and that's where I got Lord Huron from."


So what are your opinions on the 'digital age' of music?
"Well there's pluses and negatives. I'm not vehemently against illegal downloading, but it could reach a point where people can't afford to record. There's a way of recording on home computers which for certain kinds of music is really good. For capturing a band that way of recording isn't very good, and good studios are expensive things. So if we completely go over to illegal downloading, basically we're not going to be able to afford to make that kind of record. So that's the negatives. The plus side is that all over Europe way more people are going to the gigs, and I think that's down to the internet. You know, someone's coming to town and you see it online, you can easily listen to their music straight away and then go "you know what, I'm going to go to that gig tonight'. So it's created a great ground for live music. A really positive thing there. So that's where I am on that. I think a lot of people who are into bands such as ours, a lot of our fans they may download our stuff but usually they go and buy it as well. I think they realise that CDs and paid-for downloads don't make a great deal of profit, but what profit there is really does go back into making the next record. That's certainly what happened with this one of ours, the money we recorded this LP with was basically the money we made from 'Sky At Night'."

The band have been around since 1999, which is a long time for groups to survive these days. But if you could go back, would you have changed anything?
"Well in a lot of ways circumstances happened to us. Sometimes things happen that are bad, but there are silver linings. For instance our first LP 'Natural History', about 2 or 3 weeks after its release, just as we about to have loads of media attention that had built up in the UK, the record label got into some financial difficulties. And it meant that all that hype didn't happen, because the CD wasn't in the shops for a while. And when that happened we went to Europe, because our CD was still being sold there, and we immediately started touring in Holland, Germany, France, etc. So we did that rather than spending a lot of that first year concentrating on the UK, and in the long run I think that's been a really good thing because we've built it up as much in other countries as we do here. In Holland and Germany, we have the same size audiences as we do in the UK. At the time it was like "oh shit, I can't believe this has happened" but actually I think it turned out for the best. I can't alter the past, so if there is anything negative, I'm very good at self-delusion so I just won't think about it!"



So what's next for I Am Kloot?
"Well we have the UK tour and the European tour, and while that's going on, we'll find out what we're doing after that gigwise, at the moment I don't know. But first there's the rehearsals for this tour, working out what the setlist is gonna be. We're going to be doing all the new album and then probably 2 or 3 songs from each of our previous albums I think, but how we're gonna do it isn't worked out yet, because we're gonna do some of the set as a three-piece and some of it with the extra musicians as well. So there's that to work out. We're all looking forward to getting on the road, we've been enjoying each other's company a lot and I think the spirit is high. And live, we're extremely powerful and together, and it's great. I think we're really firing on all cylinders now, and I'm looking forward to it..."


I hope it's many, many years away, but if I Am Kloot ever split, how would you like people to remember you as a band?
"As kind of bold and beautiful really. And a little bit mysterious in a way. But having said that, I just can't see me, Andy and Pete stopping this. We've been through some bad times and bleak moments but it's never even occurred to us to stop. Maybe we've slowed down, but we won't stop!"


Well it's been a great pleasure talking to you, and best of luck with the album!
"Yeah I've really enjoyed it! I'm gonna make a cup of tea, have a look at the snow, get your website up and have a good read!"

Cheers John, see you in Bristol when the tour rolls into town!

Let It All In is out now. Buy your copy HERE.

Read my review of the album HERE.



Written by Ben P Scott for God Is In The TV.