Tag Archives: organ grinder records

Left With Pictures – Every Stitch, Every Line

Left With Pictures – Every Stitch, Every Line (Organ Grinder)

Christ knows if this is the right picture...

If there’s one thing you mightn’t level at Left With Pictures, it’s that they have an identikit sound. With this latest single, the first from their forthcoming album, they’ve begun to settle into themselves a little. Their Secretly EP saw them hitting a stride, each recording a vignette of sweetness, intrigue and devilish complexity, and it’s a fantastic thrill to see that this has now become their benchmark. Every Stitch, Every Line is a totally charming musing on the nature of newness and authenticity – “Every slide… they’ve all been tried…” sings Stuart Barter, finishing off by saying that “there’s a gang who are ahead of you, but you’re very far behind…” Such knowledge of the nature of creativity will stand them in good stead for the future and, hopefully, make them aware of how hard they’ll have to work to match this.

The b-side, Her Father’s Nose, takes a more traditionally romantic form, but is still effortlessly quirky. The plopping piano in particular accentuates Barter’s odd lyrics that describe himself as both a singer and a swine. Again, the arrangements are divine, although a little simpler, and totally in keeping with the hyper-personal sentiments. It’s a real joy that, like We Clutched on the Secretly EP, the arrangements are being tailored to the increasingly interesting and engaging verbal constructs, be they lusting or wistful or joyous. A great sign for the forthcoming album.

Visit the band with your ears here.

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How’s Your Week? – Left With Pictures

This week (well, last week really, did you see the snow?!), we had quick word with Stuart Barter from Left With Pictures, whose sublime Secretly EP is reviewed here. PM interviewed the band once here, as well. Look how brainy! Sounds like the band have had a cracking week, and Stuart was all eager to impart…

Left With Pictures

In a word, how’s your week?

Exciting.
 
What did you get up to last night and how was it? 
Last night I was at The Bush Hall doing a Left With Pictures set at “Shhh” festival. It was delightful. We played entirely without amplification, which was a little nerve-wracking but it paid off I think. They had the grand piano out which Toby (our keyboard player) used and it sounded lovely. The whole place was dimly lit and decked out with candles on each table, and the snow coming down outside also added to the drama! It was totally packed as well so pats on the back all round. Great sets from the likes of David Thomas Broughton, and Liz Green as always. Animal Magic Tricks, who I’d never heard of before, was great too, so that was a nice discovery.
 
What’s for dinner tonight and who’s cooking it?
Not sure yet. Perhaps my signature dish – Spaghetti Bolognese. Or I might visit my girlfriend if I can make it to her in the snow, if I’m lucky she’ll make me something.

What have you listened to today and did you like it?

The first half of Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde was played as accompaniment to some serious playing of Nintendo Wii with my housemate. I’m a bit of a Dylan fanatic, so yes I enjoyed it – but I was concentrating more on scoring goals on Mario Strikers to be honest. In cases of extreme snow…reach for the consoles I say.
 
What’s your favourite/least favourite thing that’s happened this week?
It’s been a brilliant week so far. The Shhh festival was amazing and Time Out wrote a lovely piece about us as a preview to it. Only slightly bad thing was walking to Shepherds Bush tube after the show in the driving snow. But even that was pleasant in some ways. Best to look on the bright side, I think.
You can hear the intricate sounds of Left With Pictures here. We’re due an album soon, right?

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Left With Pictures – Secretly EP

The following is a full reprint of a review written recently for Drowned In Sound, where it was sub-edited almost out of all recognition and had marks knocked off for fear of the site becoming too generous with points. It can be viewed in that state here.

Left With Pictures – Secretly EP (Organ Grinder)

I interviewed Left With Pictures some time ago for DiS, and was very struck by how bright they were. Answers needed no editing for ums or ahs, everything they said was meticulous in its delivery, eloquent and illustrative. Can you see a parallel flying at your face? 

 There are so many artists whose press releases nonchalantly fart out phrases such as ‘classically trained’ or ‘baroque pop’ or, maybe, ‘channelling the majesty of Haydn’s sturm und drang period’ or something equally flaccid. On almost every single occasion, these claims are included to impress the reviewer and the listener, to foist upon them unjustly the idea that this particular record is that little bit brainier than most, that because these guys know the difference between exposition and development that their complex, terribly rewarding music is just the bollocks. On almost every single occasion, this is terrifyingly wrong, tiresome and, frankly, quite insulting to the listener. Let us judge for ourselves how brainy they are, we don’t need to be told to listen out for the string arrangements. And you’ve use the word ‘crescendo’ incorrectly.  

 

Left With Pictures are one of the very few examples of the tide turning right back on this rough maxim. A bendy hybrid of early classical chord shapes, very pure pop melodies and brilliant nuances, hilariously correct and satisfying in their deployment, they manage at all times to be terribly aware of how to fill the musical spaces. They can’t really be described as a rock act or a folk act or, really, a pop act – they’re just an ensemble. They use traditional instruments, but sensitively. The temptation when, y’know, doing one of those records where the singer stands at the front of patronised session musicians and conducts a song that really needs no conducting, is to just use ‘an orchestra’, ‘a string quartet’, ‘some horns’. Left With Pictures use the right instruments to involve the listener with the right sound, to augment melodies, harmonies and lyrics, they don’t just throw everything at it. The arrangements here are expert. 

 

‘We Clutched’ is a soft tale told in rubato, gently teased into acceleration and finally settling into a dainty dance, all the time carefully letting us hear clarinet harmonies, double bass throbs and a lovely lyric. The chord progression is simple, functional even, but it’s the variety of ways in which it is tweaked, the attention to detail in what we’re allowed to hear that makes the whole thing special. Similarly, ‘Boats’ is a tiny miracle of escalations and descents, of fine and pleasingly florid instrumental harmonies and another lovely lyric. I’d never really noticed before that Left With Pictures’ lyrics are very poetic, idiosyncratic and conversational without being ridiculous and, at times, quite moving. There’s nothing at all bad about a line like “I can’t push this boulder from out of the door, could you help me please?”  

 

To bring this all refreshingly into context, it seems that Left With Pictures will have to be a pop band for the sake of practical things like record labels, venues to play live at and the internet, but they know what they are really. They are an ensemble, some musicians and writers and composers that painstakingly arrange their pieces. A more complex description than that would undermine their excellence. 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit the band’s MySpace here.

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