|Phat Bollard in action|
Phat Bollard – It’s Not Knitting
It’s a new year so I thought I’d start with a new experience. Never before has a neighbour approached me at a New Years Eve party, thrust a CD in to my hand and said “I saw these guys busking and thought they were great so you need to review them on your blog”! It was so wonderfully refreshing to realise that people are still willing to interact with music on such a personal level (i.e. not through a screen) that I just had to have a listen.
Phat Bollard are a folk troupe from Calstock in Cornwall who plough a furrow of plucked melodies, swaggering rhythms and big, chunky bass lines. The interplay between banjo and mandolin on ‘I Love You Only’ would make Mumford & Sons green with envy and the rich, layered sound suggests there is much more to these guys than just a rag-tag bunch of buskers. As I delve deeper I find the lilting joy of ‘Forgiveness’ that should almost be certainly be performed by a band of musicians wondering along a beach somewhere sunny and unspoilt such is its bouncy, summery, Mungo Jerry-esque joie de vivre. Similarly, ‘Drown Your Sorrows’ is bound to show up on some sun drenched ad campaign this year (please God, just a little sun this year) – pay attention all you cider companies out there.
‘Money’ is a song specifically designed to generate more money from busking endeavours so, although fun, it doesn’t work brilliantly well on CD but is still a fun song with some somewhat fruity language. The acoustic picking on ‘Insane and Lazy’ is beautifully relaxing to begin with and then grows in to music that would perfectly soundtrack a stop-motion film of an apple orchard coming in to life from blossom to ripe, crisp apples. This may all sound incredibly rural and that’s because it is. This is folk music made by people living the good life in the country who want to make you dance and tell a story at the same time – just the way it was meant to be. The cherry on the sizeable cake is the quality of the raspy vocals that weave in and out of the intricate music. This is the voice of a man that if he wasn’t singing in a band would be shouting at seagulls in a car park before telling everyone about it in the pub until closing time. Not necessarily mental but just so at ease with his place in the world that he doesn’t need to worry about social etiquette or ‘normal’ behaviour.
The ‘studio’ part of the album finishes with the 8 minute folk-odyssey that is ‘Time Turns Slowly/Easy’ that undulates like the roads of Cornwall before building in to a crescendo of rabble-rousing and foot stomping. But that isn’t the end of things, oh no. There are then three ‘live’ tracks starting with ‘The Hof’ with a furious pace and Eastern European tones that show that these guys really know their way around the folk genre. The Slavic theme continues on ‘Adam’s Eastern Odyssey’ which has a superbly lilting, Jewish feel and takes me back to my days of living in Stoke Newington! The final track here also has a slightly exotic feel, perhaps more Arabic or North African in flavour as ‘Fucking Fairies’ romps, jumps, whoops and back flips in to my ears. Phat Bollard sound like they would be outstanding live and their energy suggests they would be perfect street buskers as well so keep an eye out for them on a street corner near you. So, next time you hear a busker don’t just turn up your iPod and walk past, give them a listen and if they’re any good then let me know!
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