Boat To Row front man Michael King claims to have been brought up on Black Sabbath. Though not much about his music would lead you to any evidence of this. Their latest AA side, Old Scenes and Freedom happens to be their strongest moment to date; violins, banjos and guitars create a network of resonant, ethereal strings. Various school classroom percussion going someway to add the huge amount of depth that is layered up throughout the two songs.
The lyrics seem to be just as crucial as the array of acoustics that are riddled within the woodwork. It is clear that both ‘Freedom’ and ‘Old Scenes’ are sung by a man undergoing some kind of serious heartbreak. Whether King has undergone some kind of personal tragedy is ultimately irrelevant as lyrically it shows a cleansing, through King’s calm, Belle and Sebastian-like tone. “We’ll meet on the breeze and talk of old scenes / Sweep by me please / Be well, be well” is just but one of his bittersweet brood’s on ‘Old Scenes’, showing a man that doesn’t quite want to be rid of whatever’s troubling.
We caught up with the band to ask them about their Favourite Five. Check out their answers below…
Favourite album of all time
Ben: That’s pretty much an impossible question to answer, the kind that makes me want to quote High Fidelity! A favourite for what occasion? I have quite a few records that I can go back to at any time and love just as much, ‘Rumours’, ‘Harvest’ and the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album and a couple of Beatles records spring to mind. One of my favourites for a long time has been ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ by Neutral Milk Hotel so perhaps I can say that’s my favourite for today at least. I love how dirty and raw it is for an album that’s essentially a singer songwriter sort of album. It flows perfectly. My favourite tracks are Holland, 1945 and King of Carrot Flowers, pt 1.
Favourite gig of all time
Emma: Again, tough to answer but the one that springs to mind was just a few weeks ago – Paul Simon at Hyde Park, as part of the 25th Anniversary tour of ‘Graceland’. I went with Lloyd and Ben and we had a great time! It was so good to hear all the songs from the album performed by the original band and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, as well as other songs from his solo career, and in the encore ‘The Boxer’ and ‘The Sound of Silence’. It was emotional! I bought a T-Shirt as well.
Favourite songwriter of all time
Mike: I’ve been thinking about this all day and have only just settled on my top ten, let alone my Favourite. But I guess after much consideration, Joni Mitchell is pretty perfect. “A Case of You” and “Both Sides Now” have to be two the best songs ever, lyrically there gorgeous. Neil Finn has to get a mention as well, perfect pop song writer, plus he seems like such a kind soul, not enough kind souls around.
Favourite Saturday night record
Lloyd: Slam Dunk Da Funk by 5ive – No currently my favourite saturday night record is handle me with care by the Travelling Wilburys, I only found out about them this year through Emma. In fact its on my ipod most times whilst driving I don’t think it needs to just be saturday night.
Favourite Sunday morning record
Billy: This is a tough one. My record collection seems to be full of what I consider to be Sunday morning records. The first Bon Iver and Perfume Genius albums, as well as ‘The Wild Hunt’ by The Tallest Man On Earth would be good choices. My ultimate choice would have be ‘Kind Of Blue’ by Miles Davis. I was my personal introduction to jazz and I still think it is one of my favourites. The album is full of beautiful texture, it’s really quite simple and understated. It still sounds stunning and is brilliantly recorded, especially when you consider this was recorded over 50 years ago. I recommend it to people who think they hate jazz.
Words by Matthew French