Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left

Five_Leaves_LeftWell, it was kind of inevitable that I would get around to this one at some point and, thanks to the reissue vinyl boxset malarkey, I now have an excuse to do it.  The timing is a bit weird as far as this site is concerned and given the obvious comparisons between this artist and the one on the previous page, but it’s pure coincidence and (as I hoped I put across the other day) any correlation is superficial and circumstantial anyway.

The other thing that’s a bit strange as far as I go is that, of the three records that he made, this is one that has the least obvious emotional connection for me.  Bryter Layter was the first one I heard which is something that carries its own strange resonance, and Pink Moon… well, Pink Moon is Pink Moon to me.  I had always listened to Five Leaves Left as this odd little thing that doesn’t fall into any of the boxes filled by the other two, and I think I’m starting to understand why.

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Lux Harmonium – XVI.I

034I do seem to be lucky with blind buys, as I can’t recall forking out good money and getting a duffer in return.  If only this mystical ability would extend to lottery numbers.  I do tend to find that I’m swayed in no small part by things that go out of their way to intrigue and occasionally confuse, as if there’s anything to add to the suspense of not knowing what something’s going to sound like, it’s not knowing exactly what’s going on in the first place.  Piccadilly Records has this on their website, describing it both as a 7″ single that comes with a whole accompanying album on CD or a CD album that comes with a free 7″.  After several playthroughs, I am none the wiser (the label’s catalogue number is the same for both), but it’s clear from the contents of both that it doesn’t really matter.

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Bibio – Silver Wilkinson

bibio silver wilkinsonThere are a couple of things that generally herald The Great British Summer.  Mostly, it’s the phrase “Since Records Began”, although it’s generally a mixed bag as to which record is going to be broken during any given year.  Early days yet as it’s only May, but “moodiest” seems to be an early contender.  Not that any of this matters, as if there’s something us British types are good at, it’s plugging along regardless then moaning about it at a later date.

What some of us are also good at is creating our own sunshine out of whatever happens to be around.  Silver Wilkinson, the latest album from Wolverhampton-based Bibio, follows in that fine tradition of parting the clouds and repainting the skies for the benefit of the rain-dampened masses.

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Mark Kozelek – Like Rats

Like RatsIt is of little surprise to anyone who has breezed through these pages before that I’m rather partial to the Cover Version.  Reasons for my love of this particular form of expression are many and have no doubt been mentioned before – a new slant on old favourites, a previously unseen roadmap/blueprint from much-appreciated artists, a way of discovering previously unknown material or sometimes just goofing off for entertainment purposes.  Out of the previously-listed criteria for what I usually enjoy from a collection of someone doing a bunch of songs by other people, I honestly have no idea where to file this one, and the way that I went through the first listen was fraught with myriad temptations that would have meant that it would have taken several hours to get from one end to the other.
Mark Kozelek of course isn’t averse to knocking out the odd cover version (and knocking them out of the park), and something particular to his treatments of classics, favourites and assorted others is that they are well and truly bent around his own personal outlook to the point that they are scarcely recognisable as covers, fitting in cuckoo-like among his own body of work. Like Rats is sort of a continuation of this; thirteen songs from a very broad church that make perfect sense here due to the way that they have been reconstructed, and a palpable sense of the joy of reinterpretation and making completely new versions that retain those precious few moments of “Hang on, I know this one…”

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Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves

Growing older.  It’s something we hate doing, but it’s also something that we wished would happen to other people not so lucky to have done so.  It’s also an unnecessarily scary procedure compared to, say, puberty – at least back then we had pamphlets and sympathetic teachers and doctors to tell us what was going on.  Hitting further milestones, we have nobody to explain why, for instance, some hairs decide to leave one place and spring up in various other illogical areas…  It’s no wonder we get grumpy.

Some people are way ahead of us in the bemused woe stakes.  Mark Kozalek for instance is long-practiced in this art, expressing beautifully drawn-out angsty eloquence as kingpin of Red House Painters, and again as the centre of Sun Kil Moon.  For this new one, he’s dropped his guard somewhat and – with a sunny blue sky adorning the cover – offered a collection that comes across as someone starting to write an autobiography, then deciding “sod it, I’ll just put it to music instead” and making something altogether more fitting.

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Matthew Ryan – Dear Lover (Acoustic Version)

In a list I did on LastFM at the arse-end of last year, I did one of those customary ‘Best Of…’ lists.  In second place (just behind the Soulsavers’ Broken), was Matthew Ryan’s heartbreakingly wonderful Dear Lover – an album stripped down to the very barest of emotion performed and produced almost completely by Matthew alone.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when this acoustic version was announced – just how is it possible to pare the originals down further without going round to going round to everyone’s house and performing it for them?  Well, by making an album that sounds exactly as if that’s what he’s doing is as good a method as any…

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