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The Guardian – New Band Of The Day – Kiran Leonard

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/may/28/kiran-leonard-new-band

Kiran Leonard (No 1,520)

He’s 17 and supremely, eclectically gifted – meet the Manc mutha of invention”

Hometown: Dobcross, Oldham.

The lineup: Kiran Leonard (vocals, instruments).

The background: Kiran Leonard is a singer-songwriter from near Manchester, but another kid busker with a soulful voice he ain’t. Record companies searching for the next Ed Sheeran can probably look away now (he’s not even the next Ed Harcourt, although that’s a lot closer). One of the tracks on his album, Bowler Hat Soup – which isn’t even his debut, despite the fact he’s only 17 – sounds like a hardcore band playing a show tune. Others remind us of Ariel Pink in a tussle with Aphex Twin, and Van Dyke Parks if he were remaking Song Cycle less as a tumble of musicals and Americana and more as a jumble of music hall and Monty Python.

Needless to say, Leonard is more Frank Zappa than Frank Turner. Bowler Hat Soup includes 16 tracks and features Leonard playing everything bar a swordfish trombone, from the usual piano and guitar to a grill. There are as many ideas as there are instruments (22 at last count, give or take a cajón and a mandolin). Hell, his press release contains more ideas than most records by people twice his age. He describes his album as “a hexadecagonal pseudo-fortress of occasionally caustic and semi-illiterate pop nonsense” and, employing a decidedly regal third-person, “suspects the whole thing is a little schizophrenic and relentless” while tacitly acknowledging the benefits of such qualities. He is “a firm believer in the exponential curve that connects the power and excellence of a show with its number of drummers” and “claims his music is capable of causing uncontrollable bouts of hysteria”.

We’re not laughing, we’re gawping. At this boy – signed to producer Paul Epworth’s sister Mary’s label – who knows how to spell Nietzsche and leitmotif, and who, not surprisingly, has been described by sources we trust as “freakishly savantish”. His music, as we say, moves rapidly between prog-pop, scuzz-rock and a dozen other places, some of which have no name. From the baroque tumult that is opener Dear Lincoln to the closing track, A Purpose, performed on an 1898 American reed organ, there is no let-up. It is psych-cabaret one minute, avant-chamber pop the next. There are handclaps and harmoniums, and an agglomeration of non-rock styles that posit Leonard as a sort of teenage Brit Van Dyke. There’s No Future in Us is a mad Ariel Pink hurtle wherein Leonard’s voice is treated not so much to Auto-Tune as Manual Distort. Oakland Highball is metal vaudeville or acoustic thrash.

Apparently, his previous album opened with a 26-minute prog-jazz opus called the Big Fish. We’re actually scared to check it out. Before that, he made electronic music under the name Pend Oreille. Not for nothing have some suspected Leonard is some kind of brilliant hoaxer. Either way, you want to applaud him. “I have never attempted anything this complex or grandiose,” he says. He explains that lyrically he “began to semantically group certain themes – songs about my family and friends, of love and war, and also alcohol consumption” – as he progressed. He adds: “To have finally seen its completion is an overwhelming and wonderful feeling.” We can only imagine.

The buzz“Jesus, what a talent.”

The truth: We doff our (bowler) hats to this young chap.

Most likely to: Pend belief.

Least likely to: Sign to a major.

What to buy: Bowler Hat Soup will be released by Hand Of Glory on a limited run of 300 vinyl records on 26 August.

File next to: Ed Harcourt, Rufus Wainwright, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson.

Linkskiranleonard.bandcamp.com.

Godley-Creme Gizmotron

Stumbled across this amazing bit of seventies techno today, the ‘Godley Creme Gizmotron’. Designed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme towards the end of their time in 10cc, it’s pretty much a ‘hurdy gurdy’ add on for electric guitar, consisting of a series of spinning rubber wheels that bow each string.

Here’s a news feature from 1977 detailing it’s development , followed by an excerpt from their ‘Consequences’ lp, that heavily featured the instrument.

 

 

 

The Tokens, Association and Turtles

Here at HOG, we’ve got a bit of a thing for albums made after a hit bands supposed peak. What we’ve come to term the ‘fuckit’ albums. The point where a band is still stretching out and growing, often artistically surpassing their earlier work, but has little hope of an audience of a size they once enjoyed. There is often a sense of freedom and experimentation with these records that would have been difficult to achieve as a chart act.

The most obvious examples of this for me would be the four early seventies Beach Boys albums- which despite some incredible moments, barely charted into the ‘hundreds’ in the US.

Beyond these- which have since entered the canon of classic albums- are records by The Tokens, Association and Turtles, which despite being incredible records by household names, don’t seem to attract anywhere near the same sort of attention. This has lead to many awkward silences for me personally, where enthusing about records by these bands to fellow sixties heads has lead to bemused looks followed by ‘what- the Wimoweh guys?’, and disbelief.

So- here are some great moments, from chart topping bands who deserve to be known for more than Happy Together, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and Windy.

The Turtles- Love in the city

This was released worldwide as a single in 1969, but didn’t really achieve the success it deserved, despite, to me sounding like a more poppy and commercial version of Forever Changes era Love.

The Tokens- Waiting for something

This is from The Tokens unreleased 1968 lp ‘Intercourse’. A limited release was apparently made in 1972, but I’ve never seen a copy of that pressing for sale, nor heard of anyone that owns it. It remained widely unheard until the current Revola release.

The Tokens/Cross Country- Just A Thought

After The Tokens split, 3/4 of them reconvened as Cross Country. Their low key cover of midnight hour was a hit, but the whole record is great. A perfect blend of sunshine pop vocals and flanged folky country rock.

Here is a Spotify playlist of some further tracks which are unavailable on Youtube. Check it out! The Association sounding like vocal era Eno! (Goodbye Forever) The Turtles singing cutting anti war songs in their Laurel Canyon period (we ain’t gonna party no more)

http://open.spotify.com/user/alanmusgrave/playlist/5BZ3GkGul71Nwutbl47Jmp

In addition to this, if you’ve enjoyed The Tokens tracks, I’d encourage you to check out the unheard Mitch Margo demos at www.becoolrecords.com/records

These are very much floating my boat at the moment- fitting into the Don Agrati/Dennis Wilson/Robb Kunkel/Emitt Rhodes/Curt Boettcher/Ned Doheny seventies LA solo artist canon, whilst also having a surprising synthy, Ariel Pink vibe (Love Today, Dirty Dog) in places. Great stuff.

Jobriath

I’m a rather big fan of Jobriath, AKA Jobriath Boone, born Bruce Wayne Campbell.

A couple of times I’ve mentioned this to people who share 99% of the same taste in music as me, who are happy to evangelise about most pop music, glam, folk, psych, whatever, only to find that they think I am claiming to like him only to seem outrageous.

The other response is generally just a blank look.

Personally I think he’s criminally underrated. I don’t know if that’s an overhang from homophobia in the 70s, homophobia in the here and now, a fear of glam rock, or just the result of a hype-bubble so massive that the fallout obscured what  talents Jobriath really had.

I first saw this clip of Jobriath and his amazing backing band The Creatures on this clip from his 1974 appearance on Midnight Special.

His original choice of song “Take me I’m yours” was just a step too far for the producers due to its overtly sexual lyrical content. To me, his performance offers so much more than just glitter and showmanship.

Every time I watch this I’m filled with envy that I’m not in this band.

Sometime last year I got hold of a copy of the self-titled album he made as part of the band “Pidgeon”. I had a hunch I would like it, Jobriath plus sunshine pop sounded like my dream combination. My hunch was correct.

I love it all. It’s full of beautiful songs with baroque flourishes, it’s tender and sweet, and I find it awfully hard not to read lots of meaningful things into the lyrics.

This is the B-side of the single that Pigeon released after the album, supposedly there were some more tracks from these sessions. I wish this song was hugely famous. I can’t help but be greatly moved by it every time I hear it.

Killer lyrics to this one, listen in.

Bruce Wayne Campbell died of AIDS on 3 August 1983 aged just 36.

Acclaimed filmmaker Kieran Turner is busy making a film about Jobriath Boone and his life, featuring interviews with many of his friends and colleagues, and those who love his music now. Keep up with the project here Jobriath AD Facebook Page .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Joy

HappyBirthday

Here’s a rip of a record I found. I think it’s from Hong Kong, it’s a ten inch, and the only words on it in English are ‘Happy Birthday’.

3 of the 4 tracks are trad sounding- not really my bag, but the last is what I imagine is also a folk melody, but played in a rock and roll style.

It’s possibly the happiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.