Archives for posts with tag: The Clientele

Aiofe Nessa Frances

This Psychedelic Sunday treat is from the debut album by Irish songwriter and musician Aoife Nessa Frances “Land of No Junction”. The song is “Libra” and the 12 string guitar playing wraps the enigmatic lyrics in a glorious and timeless jangling psych-folk-rock setting.

I came across this album in Uncut Magazine as Album of the Month. While PopLib is usually reserved for the less celebrated sounds of the underground, the interview with Aoife Nessa Frances accompanying the review contained references to PopLib favourites Maria Somerville, The Clientele, and Broadcast. So I had to check the album out. And then buy it.

Although taking a different approach and more mainstream (but not over-polished) production, the album evokes some of the same strange wooziness of Somerville’s “All My People” and also captures something of that autumnal wistfulness of The Clientele.  There’s an exploratory edge to the arrangements that sees combinations of instruments full of wobbly character (mellotron, old analogue drum machines) with acoustic and electric guitars and a free-wheeling rhythm section.

Best of all is that while lots of the elements of the album might sound familiar – nostalgic even – this sounds quite unique and of its own world at the same time, and an absorbing listen.



Autumn London“We try to articulate that change in the air that happens when autumn comes. But it’s not a verbal thing; you can’t really express it properly with words. You can express it with music and atmosphere.” Alasdair MacLean – The Clientele

The Clientele are one of my favourite bands. Although I learned the other day they are in fact an art project rather than a band in the traditional rock and roll sense of the word. I thought they had split up several years ago after releasing “Bonfires on the Heath” (2009).

But they’ve found their way back from making a living as normal people in the real world, parenthood, gardening in suburban London allotments, and all that stuff, to make another album. “Music for the Age of Miracles” is out on 22 September and here’s “Everyone You Meet” from it:

Like everything The Clientele have done there’s an autumnal element to this song, which augers well for the new album. Autumn features a lot in the songs and the lyrics.

The Clientele has always seemed to me to be like a musical way of representing personal experience and feelings about the natural and human environment, ghostly imagery of landscape paintings, old photographs, literature and poetry, in the form of contemporary pop songs.

Here’s what songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Alasdair MacLean had to say about The Clientele in a 2015 interview  in answer to a question about refining the sound of The Clientele over 5 albums, which some listeners may view as rehashing old songs:

“I think that I completely understand why people would say that about The Clientele, as they’re viewing us in 2015 as a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. The kind of rock band that has to focus on reinvention, this Miles Davis or Picasso styled reinvention. But in 2015, Rock ‘n’ Roll bands don’t mean anything and The Clientele isn’t one; they’re an art project. Again I know that sounds aggressively pretentious.

What it is it’s a refinement of a certain idea and it’s something that’s lasted a couple of decades and a lot of people have contributed to it. So you shouldn’t expect a Kid A from us or a Screamadelica. That’s all bullshit now anyway. I don’t think it matters now, I don’t think it has any meaning anymore. What we’re doing is just rumbling on with this art project that’s been going on since the ’90s.

Our whole aim and our whole methodology is separate from what they’re looking at, what their expectations are. We don’t have that idea of the difficult third album, that’s foreign to what we do.

When The Clientele stopped making music, around Bonfires on the Heath, it was because I felt like it had gone out of control. It had gone from being this interesting, heartbreaking art-project to starting to threaten to sound like a normal band and I really didn’t want to be a part of that, so we stopped it. That was just one of the many reasons.

For me it has to not sound like a normal band, it has to go back to the vividness and the inspiration of before. And actually what we’ve done does sound like we have that. So as long as we carry on having that, we’ll carry on and make another record. If not, we’ve made five records and five records is enough for any band really. Unless you’re Robert Wyatt.”

Leaf Library
“Rings of Saturn” is one of two preview songs available to stream ahead of the upcoming release of the debut album from UK band The Leaf Library.

The album from which “Rings of Saturn” is taken from is glorious. Every so often albums come along which just cast a spell of magic so powerful you can’t escape them. “Daylight Versions” is one of these.

The Leaf Library say – with a hint of self-deprecation – they make “droney, two-chord pop that’s stuck halfway between the garage and the bedroom, all topped with lyrical love songs to buildings, stationery and the weather.” In fact this subdued and reflective music unfurls itself just perfectly and without much fuss. At times it is almost impossibly and unbearably perfect.

If you need touchstones for reference then the quieter sonic lullabies on Yo La Tengo albums is a good starting point. But it is also a bit like experiencing The Clientele’s ghostly pastoral elegies warped through the drone melodies of Stereolab. There’s a strong sense of place and season even if it seems filtered through the haze of half-sleep. Kate Gibson’s low-key vocals are all part of the welcome here too, their soft, compelling tones and uncomplicated delivery reminiscent at times of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan.

Beyond the hypnotic repetitive caress of the songs, The Leaf Library introduce textures varying from gently pulsing electronica, washes of ambient noise, piano, horns, strings. It’s more ambient/ experimental electronic folk pop than psychedelic rock and the difficulty categorising it is all part of the mystery and magic here. One of my albums of the year already.

“Daylight Versions” is released on UK label WIAIWYA on 30 October and can be pre-ordered from the label here.

Sorry for the long break since the last post. Other things on my mind. Mostly good things. But in the past week some shit things too. But you can always rely on a perfect song to help rebuild you when you are down. ‘Spiral Staircase’ by Birdie was that perfect song:

Not sure if it references the Pavement guitarist. Maybe it’s just about a spiral staircase. Stranger things have had songs written about them, even if architecture doesn’t often come to mind.

The song is one side of a split 7″ picture disc single released by London club/ label The Hangover Lounge. As well as being a “A Sunday club (2-9pm) to hear the perfect music to calm your minds after a hard Saturday night’s drinking and stave off the dread of the week ahead” in London it is also a label. The Hangover Lounge periodically releases 10″ EPs compiling artists who have played at the Hangover Lounge, usually exclusive or acoustic performances.

They say of this Birdie song: “Birdie are Paul Kelly and Debsey Wykes, guitarist and backing vocalist with Saint Etienne. In 1996 Alan McGee paid for them to record a demo. McGee was too busy claiming 18 Wheeler and Heavy Stereo were the next big thing to listen properly to Spiral Staircase. What an addition Birdie would have been to Creation then! Spiral Staircase is a miniature masterpiece of Left Banke psychedelia and Laura Nyro pop.”

The song might be almost 20 years old now, but it is as timeless – and out of time – now as it would have been in 1996.

The other side of the single is something new – and of course wonderful – from The Clientele.

These are all sold out, so a streaming listen here is your only option for the time being. I have a copy – much treasured and much played already – thanks to Ben who is one of the people involved in the Hangover Lounge and has a music blog you should follow, called Did Not Chart. He wrote this about Birdie.