Long-standing readers (you know who you both are) may recall me enthusing about "Carbeth", last year's debut album by the Scottish band Trembling Bells. I picked it up after seeing them play a storming rendition of "Cold February" at an Incredible String Band tribute concert at the Barbican last June or July.
"Carbeth" was a weird and wonderful mix of psychedelia and traditional British folk, and my only criticism of it was that at times they tried a bit too hard to be weird and it did not always come off. Of course it was exactly that forced weirdness that appealed to some of the freakier than thou critics. It is largely absent from the new album "Abandoned Love", which is why some of them appear disappointed - my dear, it has tunes and everything, how terribly terribly mainstream!
Basically I am a boring old tunes man at heart so personally, as much as I enjoyed "Carbeth", I can see I am going to listen to "Abandoned Love" much more. There is nothing wrong with a bit of folk-rock, country-rock or normal, no prefix rock, and while this is mellower than "Carbeth" it is not exactly mellow. There are even some nifty horns on tracks like "Ravenna", presumably courtesy of Belle & Sebastian's Stevie Jackson, who produced the album. The singer Lavinia Blackwall still sounds like a slightly demented mix of Maddy Prior and Shirley Collins and if anything the slighter tamer background noises force more attention onto her voice rather that subdue it.
Anyway, here are a couple of favourites from "Abandoned Love":
"Ravenna" - Trembling Bells (2010)
"All Good Men Come Last" - Trembling Bells (2010)
And as a special bonus, here is the "title track" from "Carbeth":
"Willows of Carbeth" - Trembling Bells (2009)
Both albums are available for purchase or download in all the usual places, and are well worth the money.
Conventionally I add a dodgy clip from the 1970s or 1980s with only a tangential connection, if any, to the subject of the post. And who am I to defy convention? So here are the Belle Stars (Trembling Bells, Belle & Sebastian, geddit?)
To tell the truth I was always more of an Amazulu man myself. They really were too good to be forgotten.