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’”

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.

***

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

New Music Monday – Tom Williams Interview

Regular readers will no doubt recall the numerous mentions of Tom Williams & The Boat on this blog. Recently, ‘Concentrate’ was a Song Of The Day, last August they were featured in the inaugural FUTUREMUSIC and as far back as the summer of 2008 I was wittering on about this fantastic new band I’d heard on 6 Music.

My, how they’ve grown! Today, Tom Williams & The Boat released their debut single proper, ‘Concentrate’, via iTunes and on hand-numbered limited edition 7” vinyl. It seemed only right that Just Played should mark the momentous occasion and, thankfully, Tom was happy to talk about the single release, the forthcoming album and the current musical climate. Click play on this video to have a listen to the single while you read the feature below, then you’ll find handy links to allow you to purchase this beautiful track at the end of the interview.

For those of us who bought the early EPs through your website it’s pretty exciting to see you having a national single release. How are you feeling about ‘Concentrate’ being unleashed on the public?

It’s really exciting! It’s the first step of a long journey to hopefully drag us into the national consciousness!

The re-recording has a more dense sound than the original on the ‘Doing My Best’ EP. Is this an indication of where your sound is headed?

I think it’s just recorded in a better studio with better producers etc. but, yeah, we are getting heavier. The new stuff we’re working on now is really leaning away from that ‘folk’ tag which has been irrelevant for a while now. We’re getting into gloomy Radiohead, Grinderman, Bad Seeds territory with the new stuff!

When can we expect a full album and will any more EP songs be featured in re-recorded forms?

The album will hopefully be out in the summer after another single or two…it all depends how it goes. We really want to give this a go, and make sure we do our best to make sure there’s an audience waiting for the record. The album serves as a ‘greatest hits’ so far of sorts. So, yeah, some re-records but also new stuff!

You’re pretty excited about releasing ‘Concentrate’ on 7” vinyl. Even though you’ve provided plenty of free downloads on your site over the last couple of years, is the physical product an important factor in making and releasing music for you?

Yes, very, and especially vinyl. For me it’s the most generous format, physically it feels great in your hands, it sounds better than CD (the sound file is double the size) and also the artwork is glorious in that size!

You’re in the final twelve of Q Magazine’s competition to win a slot at Glastonbury. Obviously, Just Played wants you to win. Is this just about the music out there or does Glastonbury have a special significance for you?

For us it’s the best festival in the world, but also, the kind of classic rock references that drive us also drive Glasto: Springsteen, Neil Young, all that stuff…we’ve got everything crossed for the summer!

What can Just Played readers expect from the Tom Williams & The Boat live experience?

It’s louder than you thought it would be! Someone said the other day that we were more ‘muscular’ than he expected, so there you go! More muscular! We’re six, with violins, saxes, pianos and harmonicas so it’s a big noise with lots of sweat!

How did the moniker of ‘The Boat’ come to be applied to the other five members of the band?

It came very early on, I just wanted an unusual name that’d prick the ears up, but also a collective noun and a vessel seemed like a good idea! (I still maintain, as I said in the summer of 2008, that this is a top band name.)

What music would you say influences the sound of Tom Williams & The Boat?

Loads of stuff: Dylan, Springsteen, Neil Young, The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Pavement, Radiohead. Ah, it’s endless! I can’t think now you know but those are probably a top seven of sorts.

You were one of this blog’s new music tips last August – could you tip some current music for readers to investigate right now?

At the moment I’ve got the new Gil Scott-Heron on repeat, along with the Swanton Bombs album ‘Mumbo Jumbo and Murder’ and Cash’s ‘American Recordings VI’.

You’ve been quick to express your dismay at the intention of the BBC to close 6Music. This blog discovered you through your performance on Steve Lamacq’s show. How important is it as a station and do you have a rallying cry for those who haven’t yet expressed their concern at this news?

I think it’s absolutely fundamental to the survival of independent labels and artists but also it’s one of the only surviving stations that ALWAYS play you something you’ve never heard before…and that’s priceless.

What are you reading right now?

A poetry/photography mash up with lost Dylan poems from the mid sixties written for the photographs of Barry Feinstein

Any good?

Great!

If you had to summarise what it’s like starting out in the music industry in the 21st century in one sentence, what would you say?

Fun!

***

The nigh-on essential ‘Concentrate’ 7”, at a very reasonable £4 delivered, is available to order direct from Tom’s site by clicking here or you can purchase the single digitally via iTunes by clicking here. It’s a great track and I can’t even begin to express how excited I am about the prospect of the forthcoming album. I implore you to do your bit for splendid new indie by purchasing this mighty single and rewarding Tom’s endeavours to date.

2010 on the record

Do you have hallucinatory visions of The Chuckle Brothers?

Mojo readers – is it wrong to like that cover of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da‘ by Gabriella Cilmi that’s on this month’s free CD? Clearly, it’s dreadful, wrong and naughty, but something about it got under my skin. Surreal, to say the least. Not a great start, I know, wittering on about a track you’ll only know if you buy a certain magazine. Not unusual, either.

The post had a few surprises in it today. Firstly, the new Herman Dune album, ‘Next Year In Zion’, which is really rather good. Never taken to them in the past, but, on first impressions, it sounds splendid. They haven’t changed particularly, perhaps I have.

Secondly, a new album from Misty’s Big Adventure! Oh yes! The last one only came out towards the end of last year, but even so there is more to delight, thrill and confuzzle your ears. ‘Television’s People’ is a concept album about a troubled man seeking solace in daytime stodge who ends up getting sucked into the TV. Delightfully bizarre, but not especially surprising when it comes to Misty’s. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of this lot  then a) you’re not a long-standing, loyal reader of the Vinyl Junkies internet presence (fair enough, really) and b) you’re in for an absolute treat. Start with the album, ‘The Black Hole’ and then buy everything else. Anyhoo, this album is wonderfully good and comes with a quite brilliant press release by Grandmaster Gareth (the head honcho). I truly hope the good folk of Misty’s and SL records won’t mind that I’ve temporarily placed track 10, ‘There Is Hope’ on the Muxtape, simply because of its comic genius. It documents the daytime commercials coming alive in the head of the man at the centre of the story and he starts to believe that the telly is talking to him. Superb. Naturally, if anyone’s pissed off at its presence on the Mux, please let me know and it’ll disappear rapidly. That also goes for any of the new bands whose material I’ve popped on there as a taster for those who’d like to go and spend their hard earned quids on some independent releases.

As I believe I mentioned the other day, I was off on my jolly holidays last week and upon arrival I was heartened by the lack of phone reception and utterly shite TV signal. I was subsequently startled when I turned on the DAB radio and had the strongest reception I’ve ever had. Figure that out. Anyway, as a result of that, I ended up spending some time with 6music outside of the Gideon Coe show. In particular, I spent a few afternoons with the ever-delightful Lammo. Only the other week I was praising his blog and now it’s the turn of his radio show. His ‘New Favourite Band’ feature is a logical extension of what he’s been doing on the radio for years and years. Quite simply, each week he identifies a new act to which he’s taken a shine. Last week it was Tom Williams & The Boat. It’s a good band name that. Although the name at the start is nothing out of the ordinary, by adding ‘& The Boat‘ on the end, the name is suddenly memorable. It would’ve been enough to keep it lodged in my mind until I got back to the world of Google. Obviously, I’m geeky enough that if I ever happen upon music I like when I can’t do anything about it, I save the name of act and song as a draft text message, but if I wasn’t a geek, I’d still have been able to remember their name.

Anyway, we got sidetracked there. Tom Williams & The Boat’s latest release is the ‘Got Fuel EP’, which you can get from this website. It’s a delightful little package, coming as it does in a PVC sleeve with a wraparound sleeve made of glossy photos stuck to sugar paper. Inside, you get two more photos, a lyric sheet and, of course, the rather splendid CD. ‘Got Fuel’ is a delightfully woozy indie singalong that has been going round in my head for the best part of this week. To confuse matters, there’s a song called ‘Pete & The Pirates’ that actually sounds like a menacing version of The Young Republic and ‘Half Mast’ contains one of my current favourite lyrical refrains; “I don’t have a hoodie set at half mast, sitting on my fringe like  balaclava on my chin.” I’m not putting it on the Mux because I think the bloke deserves £6 for that alone.

The whole EP is great but, should you want more convincing, over on the main TW&TB site there are loads of free downloads, including some rather amusing covers. Treat yourself.

One final act of note today. Our Broken Garden are a new act on the, quite superb, Bella Union label. She – for it is only one woman, Anna Broensted of Efterklang – had an EP out back in April called, ‘Lost Sailor’ and there’s a new album on the way in September, entitled ‘When Your Blackening Shows’. Nothing else to tell, I’m afraid, but you can be thoroughly enchanted by the tunes over at the Myspace page.