Saturday, 9 June 2018

TREMBLING BELLS - DUNGENESS (Tin Angel Records LP, CD, D/L). THE LEFT OUTSIDES - ALL THAT REMAINS (Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube Records LP,D/L).

There may have been a sea change since the heady heights of the Acid Folk revival of ten or so years ago where a new generation of PsychFolkies were dipping into the Island back catalogue of the late 60s/early 70s and getting into the timeless sounds of Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, Nick Drake, John Martyn and ISB with the more adventurous seeking out records by Trees, Vashti Bunyan, Comus, Trader Horne and Mellow Candle among many other great LPs of the era. A whole scene had developed with brand new bands channeling the sounds of a more gentle era with the early Green Man festivals being the focus point for what was happening at the time. It was groovy for a while with bands escaping the traditional folk hell of real ale and weird beards playing to a more psychedelically minded audience and it reached a point where artists seeped traditional influences such as The Unthanks were gravitating from the folk clubs to medium sized concert halls. Tastes have changed with twisted Americana seeming now more popular than rootsy British Psych Folk, but there are still a few great UK bands keeping the faith and recording albums that mix the freewheeling sound of UFO Club era Fairport Convention with a muscular Folk sensibility……….more Middle Earth than middle America. Two such bands are Trembling Bells and The Left Outsides who both have fantastic new records out at the moment.

Blending the attack of squalling Acid Rock guitar with a nimble rhythm section Trembling Bells approach to Folk Rock has more than a faint echo of Fairport Convention’s “heyday” when the band featured the stellar talents of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny (way before trad Folk Luddite Dave Swarbrick had led the band into musical irrelevance by the end of the 70s………..the current incarnation of the band are still living off the fumes of records recorded 50 years ago). Taking the sounds of the more tripped out late 60s/early 70s Acid Folk bands as a launch pad for their songs, Trembling Bells then add plenty of modern Psych Rock influences creating music that is Folk Rock inspired but is not really Folk Rock in the…….erm……traditional sense but a complex mix of a whole host of of fluid layers and textures seeping down to the Folk roots. Now releasing records on the much admired label Tin Angel Records, the current LP Dungeness is their seventh since their 2009 debut and no doubt their best and most Psychedelic to date. Housed in a sleeve that resembles the debut album by Fotheringay to such a degree it borders on plagiarism but is a perfect indicator where Trembling Bells are at in 2018……..heavily influenced by “classic” British 60s/70s Psychedelic Folk Rock, the new LP taps into records such as Fairport’s Unhalfbricking, On The Shore by Trees, Richard and Linda Thompson’s Pour Down Like Silver to name just a few, but with a solid spine of inventive modern Psych Rock and driven by fuzzed up and freaked out guitars………Dungeness is the record that should bust the band out of the “Folk ghetto” to wider PsychHead audience. Both thrilling and beautifully subtle, it’s a killer record from start to finish with not a duff track in sight. One of this year’s essential records. Out NOW via Tin Angel Records on vinyl and CD from all the best record shops (and HMV) or on line from the usual suspects. Check it out/stream it/by it from the Tin Angel Bandcamp site here………….

Less likely to frighten the hardcore folkies is the beautiful new LP from London Psych Folk duo The Left Outsides. All That Remains is far more rooted in the golden age of Acid Folk as the '60s slid into the '70s, more suited to late night listening than Trembling Bells supercharged Psychedelic Folk Rock. Alison Cotton's vocals, harmonium and viola blend with Mark Nicholas's voice, bass, guitar, piano and drums in ways that recall Joe Boyd’s late 60’s coterie of acid tinged Folk artists, Sandy Denny’s and Richard Thompson’s solo releases mixed with a hint of David Roback's post Rain Parade project Opel and ex Galaxie 500’s Damon And Naomi’s lo-fi Psychedelia. It’s a record that is a well balanced blend of “classic” Psych/Folk Rock influences (‘The Unbroken Circle’, ‘Down to the Waterside’, ‘Clothed in Ivy, Obscured by Dust’ and ‘All That Remains’) and more stripped back atmospheric songs that really is quite wonderful and well worth your attention. Available on vinyl only in limited edition pressing via Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records (USA) and selling like hot cakes, All That Remains has had such good reviews from all over the place so expect a second pressing sometime soon. You can check out/stream the album here…………


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