Cate Le Bon’s recommendation: “It was almost accidentally that I fell into the music of the late and great Syd Barrett. The thought of having never ventured upon him makes me feel quite unsettled. A combination of horrendous radio interference on a route well travelled and a limited number of tired cassettes forced me to make a pit stop at the famous Cob records in Porthmadog where I grabbed an armful of tapes and ultimately discovered a musician who I am completely bowled over by every time I hear his work. When I play his albums I am always humbled by the thought that had Syd not had an audience then his music would still exists on a 4-track tape machine somewhere. Talent is something that can be done but genius is something that simply must be done.”
New to Syd Barrett? Cate recommends you start here: “I would always recommend Barrett ever so slightly more than The Madcap Laughs. When I first pushed Barrett into the Blaupunkt cassette player it made no sense to me at all. It was like hearing a different musical dialect that I could not decipher, but I was strangely compelled to return to the record and persevere. We battled it out on long car journeys and with every listen I heard something new. I started looking forward to car journeys knowing that I was getting closer to assembling the songs out of the cacophony. What I first mistook as a jumbled raucousness was a fragility that at some points would come so close to falling apart but would always manage to hold on by a thread. The instrumentation should be at odds with the songs melodies but it carves its path so confidently it can’t fail to sound sweet. Similarly the lyrics are no picnic but they are beautiful in their own right. It would be bold to try and give them specific meaning, being that they are wholly abstract and bizarre, but, like a true poet, Barrett is able to create a unique landscape of tragic beauty through his words that, coupled with his music, is utterly unique and genuinely eccentric. The album floors me every single time I listen to it and will always sounds relevant and exciting to me.”
More about Syd Barrett
About our guest author, Cate Le Bon: According to an interview with NME, Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys had only one problem when he started his own record label, Irony Bored. He said that the first record he put put was Cate le Bon’s Me Oh My and that she “has set a really high bar for any future release on [his label] Irony Bored.” A tough problem for Rhys, but amazing praise for Le Bon whose own site calls her music a “Gallic stew of equal parts Nico, Malkmus and the chronicler’s own emotional observations on the impossibility of existence.” Sure, the lyrics are dark (she is quite obsessed with the death), but her voice is a gem and this is an album unlike anything else you have on your hard drive. Learn more about this most original artist on the Cate Le Bon website.
MP3: Hollow Trees House Hounds by Cate Le Bon
About our guest author, Anthony D’Amato: Before recording his self-produced album, Down Wires, Anthony D’Amato honed his songwriting skill with some of the most skilled teachers you can dream up. First he met with Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet to talk lyrics. Then he teamed up with Canadian rocker Sam Roberts (who wound up playing on the album). On the performance side, Anthony has opened for the likes of Marah and Jesse Malin and even shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen at a recent benefit show. The press is buzzing about Anthony and you can bet your last guitar pick that No Depression had it right when they said, “…the attention is indeed warranted…D’Amato seems to be on the fast track to a stellar career.” Check his MySpace page for more info on your new favorite singer/songwriter.
MP3: My Father’s Son by Anthony D’Amato
About our guest author, Steven Page: After co-leading The Barenaked Ladies for 20 years, Steven Page set off on his own and has since been quite prolific as he composed the score for three productions at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Before the amicable split with BNL, he released his first solo album, Vanity Project. Five years and several collaboration records later, Steven Page recently released an album of cover songs, A Singer Must Die (we love his take on Elvis Costello’s I Want You) and another solo recording, Page One, both which are available on http://www.stevenpage.com/. Be sure to check that link for a list of tour dates. Don’t miss the chance to see one of the great pop vocalists of our time.