My aesthetic refuge in fine music and writing
The explanation for this, I believe, is quite simple. There is so little money to be made from recording these days, the vast majority of bands must tour constantly to make a decent living. In front of an audience, unlike in a recording studio, there is no hiding place, no room for multiple takes: if a band can’t play, they don’t survive for long.
Just as in my younger days when I benefited from a mother who steered me in the direction of good authors, so my children now keep me updated on decent music – they and Jools Holland.
A recent BBC Later . . . with Jools Holland included a band called Rudimental, with guest vocalist John Newman. Newman, a young white man, has by far the most soulful voice I have heard for years (check out the video for Feel the Love. It is a marvellous pastiche of The Magnificent Seven film, with the all-black cast a rebuttal of traditional American historical narratives). Another band I am very fond of is Mumford and Sons, despite them being dismissed as unthreatening on these pages recently. Frankly, if I want to feel threatened, I’ll take a stroll down the Falls Road wearing a Glasgow Rangers football shirt. But if I just want to listen to a very accomplished, modern English folk-rock band, I’ll stick with Mumford and Sons.
Admittedly, room for musical progression appears limited where Mumford and Sons are concerned, but for now they are excellent. If their few albums are anything to go by, Noah and the Whale are another decent group to emerge from the London folk scene. Their lyrics alone are exquisite.
Locally, Dublin’s Little Green Cars (who, incidentally, are playing at Whelan’s in Dublin tonight) are an extremely good alternative-country/folk-rock outfit. If they retain their musical integrity, Little Green Cars are destined for big things.
Speaking of alternative country, about four years ago, while in the process of changing to a new computer, I lost my entire computer-based music collection. I managed to replace it, except for one valued compilation album: Sounds of the New West: the Best of Alternative Country. This came free with the September 1998 issue of Uncut, so cannot be bought, nor could I find the original CD at home.
To date, I have never found the equal of that particular refuge from life’s occasional storms. But no matter, the search for others never ends.