So last night I had the pleasure of seeing My Latest Novel live for the first time. I was at the Liquid Rooms to see Frightened Rabbit and it so happened that MLN were the second support act. If I’m honest, I’d never really heard anything by them until last week when we toured with The French Quarter. Those guys played Wolves by MLN before and between bands on the first 2 nights of the tour and I really fell in love with the album. So I was delighted to hear they were supporting FR and that I had the chance to check them out. First of all – I really enjoyed their set and disagree with Tom and Matthew that they were singing out of tune. However, when the band formed, I do think they must have sat down, decided who were the best singers and then decided that the poorest singer should sing. Not that he is a poor singer, he’s got a really good voice – but the other 2, who appear to do most of the backing singing were amazing singers and added so much to the songs. I was well impressed. I had ordered Wolves prior to the gig and look forward to the release of the new album as well. Also, watching MLN I decided how to take the Kays to the next level in 2009. I’m going to have to get everyone in the band to get Art School Hair Cuts. Maybe I’ll change the name of the band to that. I like it. Seriously though, the short round sides and back and sweep from one side to the other with long at the front hair cut is something to behold. I don’t know how to do that. I think hairy and shaggy will have to do for now. Anyways, I cannot wait to hear more of MLN, they are definitely my kind of band and I’m disappointed it’s taken me this long to get into them.
So this was dropped on my desk at work just yesterday by a friend. I knew nothing about this band at all but Ross informed me that it was the side project of one Sufjan Stevens. So I listened to the album during the day and immediately I loved the music, and it was so clear that it was the offspring of Mr Stevens! If I have one criticism of the album it would to be that the lyrical content at times is a little overtly preacher like for my liking. However, I am willing to put that issue to one side because the music is simply stunning. Sufjan Stevens has been a favourite of mine from the first time I heard Michigan. The simplicity of Seven Swans is absolutely gorgeous, but his ability to layer such simple and stunning songs and create albums like Michigan and Illinois have always amazed me. At times I find his music almost like a musical. It’s slightly over the top. It’s layered with instrument after instrument. It’s often close to being theatrical. But I love it. And I love this. If you can get past the fact that this is an unashamed collection of heavily religious songs then you are going to be in for a treat. Possibly the most interesting thing is that The Welcome Wagon is not Sufjan Stevens, he is just a part of it on this album, helping shape the songs that were put to him. The Welcome Wagon is in fact a married couple, the Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique, who execute “a genre of gospel music that is refreshingly plain. Their hymns are modest and melodic takes on a vast history of sacred song traditions, delivered with the simple desire to know their Maker—and to know each other—more intimately.” Well that’s how their record label describe them. This is undoubtedly religious church music. However, it’s tinged with a country soul and the texturing that Stevens brings to these songs is something to behold. I never tire of his songs. I never tire of his incredible ability to make everything he touches turn to gold. This album is golden. It sparkles from start to finish and I would highly recommend that you check it out if you are a fan of Sufjan Stevens.