Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Desert Island Discs 111 - Crown and Treaty by Sweet Billy Pilgrim

111 - Crown and Treaty by Sweet Billy Pilgrim 2012

The second of this year's releases to make the top 125. The opening track Joyful Reunion for me sums up everything that is good about this lp and everything that might put people off. There are familiar instruments but somehow they sound different ( The song sounds like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra backing a 70s soul band) , subtle and sudden changes in direction, lyrics that make you think and a soulful vocal in the Peter Gabriel /Guy Garvey mode.

If there was a criticism it is that as the rough edges of their Mercury nominated debut have been smoothed off and to some extent there are occasions where they stray into Elbow territory, not that this is a bad thing.

Other times it reminds me of the 1st Blue Nile lp not in style (although I think they would make a great backing band if Paul Buchanan ever makes another lp) more in that straining to hear the subtleties of the instrumentation you do find yourself wondering what on earth made that sound (could be a  guitar or just as likely a bag of spanners)

Part of the joy of the record is listening to how the band weave the disparate atmospheric and experimental parts into something that on one level is quite conventional but on another steeped in experimental soul.

It is one of those lps that is full of discoveries and each track has something that pulls you to attention , whether a contrasting boy girl vocal , choir like harmonies , sampled dialogue or just the simply exquisite playing..

If the lp starts with some alternative dimension 70s soul then it finished with a just as beautiful , but just as odd country hymn

You can buy Crown and Treaty here

On a completely separate note a year in reading continues with Rapture by Liz Jensen a strange mix of eco disaster , psychological thriller , love story , religious fundamentalism and the supernatural all combined in a Magaret Atwood type brew which you can buy here


  1. A band I've sampled in the past and found kinda blah, finding the vocals an acquired taste. But I just listened to Kracklite, Brugada, and the video posted (Joyful Reunion), and I'm rather impressed. Wonderful production, to my ears anyway. Worth a second look for sure...

    # 111 - Richard Hawley - Coles Corner (2005)

    Love several tracks here, not sure if the album is really solid enough deserve a spot on my list. But how could I assemble a "Desert Island" collection and neglect the magnificent "THE OCEAN" !!!

  2. Hi Tim

    This lp is definitely a big step up from the first one. Richard Hawley I just dont get (and i know I'm in a vast minority here), I'm not sure why as he ticks all my usual boxes. In the Uk he is feted for whatever he does and can do know wrong. I just think everytime i hear him I just think this should be Paul quinn or Anthony Reynolds .
    I just think this is one of my many blind spots or should that be deaf spots?

    1. I just had TJ choking on His Cheerios about my preference of early Neil Diamond over Joni & Neil young...
      Beauty in the eye/ear...
      Appreciate your honesty.

  3. Both this and Coles Corner higher up my list; Hawley can overdue the croon thing but when he gets it right he nails the melodrama of northern life beautifully.
    My 111 is Paul Westerberg's raucous 'Suicane Gratification'. Sure, there's some post punk racket and rattle but there are fine, insightful songs too; check out 'Bookmark' and prepare for your chin to wobble...

  4. I've listened to Sweet Billy Pilgrim in the past and wasn't that keen. Even the free download they released off this abum ,'Brugada',didn't move me enough to want to dig deeper but I really like the two tracks you've posted here.
    Tim - Coles Corner is my favourite Hawley album. Have you heard his new one? I was really dissapointed, but after reading several raving reviews it appears I'm in the minority.
    If you like a good crooner check this guy out, from one of my favourite albums of the year
    Trev - Never heard a solo Paul Westerberg album, but what I've just listened to on you tube sounds really good. A bit Clash sounding, which is no bad thing.
    ...and my #111 is all the way from Tims kneck of the woods. Canadian band Heavy Blinkers with their album ' The Night and I are still so young'.

  5. Hi Phil: I've been side-stepping Heavy Blinkers after reading reviews saying they sound like friggin' Polyphonic Spree. I just sampled a few cuts and it's a step back to 60's chamber pop, Beach Boys/Bacharach vibe, right up my alley. Title track is excellent!
    Never heard of Crybaby. Definitely akin to Hawley.
    And your dead on about latest Hawley release. It violates the laws of physics; manages to suck and blow at the same time...

  6. Heavy Blinkers sound like should be my cup of tea so goig to check them out phil


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