Maybe you’ve never been tempted to ditch the job, the car, the house and your world possessions and travel haphazardly around Europe until what little money you do have runs out and you return home worried and trembling, like I was. I don’t expect any posts, hastily typed on on a recalcitrant laptop in a tent in the Pyrenees and then shoved onto a music website, to necessarily change your mind.
But just in case: here’s the best thing about ditching the job, the car, the house and your world possessions etc etc. The people – all the people – you meet en route are just lovely.
In Spain, they practically beg you to eat, live, and if you’re lucky, sleep with them, and in France, the endlessly happy population is hell-bent on proving that the grumpy-Frenchman image is a tissue of lies.
As further proof, before I’d even set off, two previous New Bands – old friends The Alibies and delightful Euro-guitar-poppers Daisy Godzilla wrote and said that I could visit them. At the time, I was taken aback by their upfront generosity, and now I still am, but without the surprise. Come to continental Europe and have your pants charmed right off.
I really ought to have featured many more bands from foreign countries, as the subsequent invitations may have made travelling so much cheaper. Unfortunately, forward planning never has been my forte.
It would have been perfect if Today’s New Band, Robert George Saull & The Purgatory Players were based somewhere on the Adriatic coast, because maybe I’d have eagerly made a detour their way. Alas: they’re from Sheffield – a lovely city, but not on my route.
Fer Elsass – a lament for the decline of artisan living standards in and around Strasbourg – is, from the very core of its being, unusual. It lingers, insouciant and grumpy, smoking Gauloises. It is the recording of a rainy, grimy, glum day in Alsace. It is sung in a manner suggesting an interest in the quixotic and sung using words that almost have the wrong meaning, but not quite. It is recorded by young men in very normal clothing from the north of England.
Something doesn’t make sense, but why spend too much time puzzling over it? Robert George Saull & The Purgatory Players’ songs have whimsy without annoyance, weirdness without pretence and are so decidedly skewed against the grain, it’s hard to escape their charms. So why bother trying? Listen here!