The Just Played Verdict: Tom Williams & The Boat ‘Too Slow’

Everyone has a couple of bands they’ve been following forever. We’ve all experienced that peculiar feeling of seeing them go from being your little secret to the recipients of public adulation. If they’re a band who sprung into life within the last five years or so, you’ve likely bought their small-scale, limited releases across the internet and told as many people as possible about how great they are and why they should listen to them too. The Futuremusic pieces are a fairly good guide as to which bands have given me those experiences and chief amongst them are Tom Williams & The Boat.

Tom Williams Too Slow

One of the reasons why I love this band and their debut album, is that they don’t really sound like anyone else currently plying their guitar-wielding trade right now. For a start, their ‘the’ is the fourth word in their name rather than the first and secondly they’re somewhere between alt-rock and nu-folk in an exciting new genre which I tend to refer to as “fucking brilliant.” When Maconie tries to say he invented this on some talking heads show in ten years time, you tell ‘em it was me. The music is urgent and raw, powerful and at times endearingly naive. It doesn’t sound perfectly polished because it isn’t. It’s the sound of a bloke with a really rather superb taste in music finding his way, carving out a sound from what interests him and working with a band who make it all so very effective. Williams’ curiously angular vocal delivery is one of the band’s finest assets. On the occasions when he does unleash its full force, things get properly exciting. Continue reading “The Just Played Verdict: Tom Williams & The Boat ‘Too Slow’”

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Tom Williams & The Boat – See My Evil EP

Don’t you just love it when one of your favourite up and coming artists truly comes of age? You always knew they were great but then they produce something which deserves to pull in the crowds. The handmade limited edition CDs and numbered 7” singles remind you of a time when it seemed like nobody else knew. Well, that time is here for Tom Williams and his boat. A previous focus for FUTUREMUSIC and one of our select band of interviewees, Tom is soon to release his rather magnificent new EP, ‘See My Evil’. You’ll be wanting one.

see my evil

The opening salvo of ‘See My Evil’ and ‘Get Older’ sound like a grubby Arcade Fire after a night in a dark room with a fine malt, headphones and a copy of Jeff Buckley’s ‘(Sketches For) My Sweetheart The Drunk’. It has a claustrophobic, almost malevolent swagger at times and ‘Get Older’ really gets inside your head. Be careful if listening via earphones, you may end up slightly on edge. ‘Strong Wheels’ is a grittier take on the narrative strum of old, propelled forth by a perpetual bass line which evokes the thrum of a cruising engine as Tom sings “me in my car, in the snow, off my head.”

Just when it feels like Tom Williams & The Boat have sailed into stormier waters (I know, I can’t believe I just typed that either) matters mellow with ‘In Love’, which shuffles through its 136 seconds rather serenely, describing love lived out through digital pictures, and the closing track, ‘Kick The Cat’. A remarkable paean to Cat Bin Lady, this track considers how we’ve all done something reckless and…oh, alright. It’s not about Cat Bin Lady. Mournful violin, sparse piano and the most emotive vocal of the five make this a rather fine way to bow out of what is Tom Williams & The Boat’s most accomplished release to date. None of the slightly shambling charm of old has gone, but the musical nous and out and out confidence borne of experience and a shit hot record collection has moved this marvellous band on another level.

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You can pre-order ‘See My Evil’ EP and receive an immediate high quality download by visiting Tom’s site here. If this review is not enough to sway you, you can download the title track for free just to confirm that you really, really should be buying this. Click and buy, come on now.

2010 inverted

Futuremusic Begins

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Futuremusic will run for the next few weeks here on Just Played, looking at how our access to music is changing, how people spend their money on music and some of the artists attempting to do things their way. To begin, the really rather wonderful, Tom Williams & The Boat.

I blame Steve Lamacq for this one. During a not especially sunny week spent in Northumberland almost exactly a year ago, I found myself tuning in to Lammo’s 6music afternoon show rather a lot. This was partly down to me reading his excellent autobiography at the time and partly because it was pretty good at drowning out the sound of incessant rain. One afternoon, his guests were Tom Williams & The Boat. Thinking back now, I can’t be absolutely certain what about them caused them to click so perfectly with me, but they were only half way through their first song as I reached for my phone to store the name of this curious new band. Since then, I’ve immersed myself in the world of their leader and ridiculously keen publicist, Tom Williams.

The music is what you’d broadly term ‘indie’ but each EP they’ve thus far put out meanders backwards and forwards across that rather vague terrain, at times sounding rather folksy, with some very well utilised violin on certain tracks. They fit into the finest indie tradition of ridiculously catchy, storytelling jingle jangle which has kept the NME staff in beer money for decades. At times they gather momentum like Arcade Fire in a power cut, while the love of late sixties folk is hard to deny. The slightly rough around the edges sound also brings to mind recent records by Malcolm Middleton, only less Scottish. Tracks like ‘Got Fuel’, ‘Half Mast’, ‘Train Station Car Park’, ‘Concentrate’ and marvellous new single, ’90mph’ (particularly for fans of Middleton’s recent single, ‘Red Travellin’ Socks’) all deserve the opportunity to caress your ears.

But, I hear you cry, why are Tom Williams & The Boat getting a mention in the rather brilliantly-titled new feature, ‘Futuremusic‘? Well, dear reader, this band are putting in extraordinary levels of effort in their hunt for popularity. Tom has embraced the idea of giving away bits and bobs via the internet and building your online support with aplomb and, having already furnished fans with numerous demos, live tracks and advance songs in recent months, he’s just undertaken a month of extreme generosity, giving away four volumes of ‘Home Recordings’ via his website. You simply need to fill out a request form and the lovely chap will email you a download link for the recordings. Naturally, these are of variable quality – both in terms of songwriting and audio recording – but they give you a pretty good idea of what makes him really rather special.

In addition to the free music, Tom appears to spend most of the time that he’s not using for recording or playing live online, sending endless updates on Myspace and Facebook and taking the time to respond to each and every email that comes his way. Just see what happens if you take him up on his offer of free ‘Home Recordings’ downloads. Finally, Tom Williams & The Boat have thus far released their records themselves in beautiful, handmade packages featuring lyrics sheets, random inserts and even the chance to get a cut price T-shirt. Wireboat Recordings as the label is known, still have stock of some of the earlier EPs and I would suggest you treat yourself right now. If you want to go for one in particular, I’d recommend the ‘Got Fuel EP’.

Regular readers may remember me banging on about Tom’s track ‘Half Mast’ last summer, with its marvellous line, “I don’t have a hoodie set at half mast, sitting on my fringe like  balaclava on my chin”. For a short while, here’s a chance to hear that track. Clicky. Naturally, if anyone involved with Tom Williams & The Boat objects to this being here for a little while, I’ll take it down. But I doubt they will. And that’s kind of the point. They want you to hear them, they want you to enjoy their tunes and I suspect you will.