Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Library Trust

Seven years ago, right after Disco 2000 had been retired from back-to-back radio broadcast, the kids or the music press (not both; it never works that way), decided that Britpop was dead (conveniently forgetting that it died one weekend in August 1997 when 659,761 people took their copies of Be Here Now home, played it, thought ‘what is this crap?’ and vowed never again to buy blustering, soulless rock sulked until they bought The Verve’s Urban Hymns in October) and that Starsailor were the saviours of rock’n’roll.

Thus, the New Acoustic Movement was born. Tragically, this deformed creature wallowed in the shallow end of the gene pool and smote us with the lumpen offerings of Coldplay and Travis with a side order of Turin Brakes (for God’s sake, does no one think of the children?); any band who’d failed to buy into the nonsense of Oasis as the second coming of The Beatles, or a cool minority who knew Let’s Make This Precious by Dexys (“No not those guitars they’re too noisy and crude…There’s no need to turn it up, If it’s pure I’ll feel it from here”), were all part of a mythical new movement.

A year later, Kings of Convenience claimed “Quiet Is The New Loud” too late in the day and Badly Drawn Boy won the Mercury Music Prize as a swan song, and the music press remembered that bluster and rock and sweat was their business, so The Strokes were the second coming and if you didn’t dye your hair black and buy a Black Rebel Motorcyle Club record (it didn’t matter which one, they really all were the same) then you should buy a leather jacket and a Libertines record (gramme of heroin optional).

The quiet bands continue to come, of course, and in Shady Bard we have something special; just as strong, perhaps even better, is the criminally neglected The Library Trust. The sound of life in a northern town, the Bonnie Prince Billy of I See A Darkness vintage with a nod towards The Field Mice’s more tender moments like So Said Kay, the band is one Robert Edwards, now residing in Manchester.

It would be stretching things a little, I think, to put The Library Trust in with Manchester’s survivors of that new acoustic movement, Badly Drawn Boy and I Am Kloot (let’s face it, the only survivors from a nuclear war would be IAK’s Johnny Bramwell and some cockroaches).

The Library Trust’s understated pop, all brittle and fragile like it might snap from the cold but for its shy, poetic warmth, was brilliantly showcased on the Build Your Own Snow Globe ep and The A to Z of Mathematics album. Hopefully, there’ll be more soon.

This year, so far, quiet is the volume of choice. A new Alasdair Roberts album next week – fingers crossed it matches Farewell Sorrow, to my mind 2003’s best album – suggests things are going to be quiet in a good way for a while.

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