Public Service Broadcasting
Long-time readers of The Album Wall won't be at all surprised to see Public Service Broadcasting at the top of this list. Their set on the Far Out stage yesterday was tremendous, even more so than the PSB shows I've seen previously - the new songs from The Race for Space sounded fab, the old songs from Inform-Educate-Entertain sounded fresh and superb (with a few new twists and turns to keep us fans on our toes), and the audience absolutely loved it. The trimmings were marvellous, too; from the dancing brass section to the light-up Sputnik to the surprise astronaut who joined the band onstage towards the end of the show, there was plenty to enjoy besides the always-excellent music.
Last time I saw The Antlers live, the setlist was almost entirely composed of numbers from their then-new album Burst Apart. This time around, they played a roughly equal mix of songs from Burst Apart, old favourite Hospice, and last year's Familiars. These three albums sound very different from one another, but I must say that Peter Silberman et al chose their songs very cleverly this time around; the oldies, like Shiva (from lo-fi Hospice) and Putting the Dog to Sleep (from the more electronic Burst Apart) somehow sounded like they could just as easily have been plucked from Familiars, a more soul-influenced album that deploys lots of horns and longer-form songwriting than any previous Antlers release. Also, DID I MENTION THAT THEY PLAYED PUTTING THE DOG TO SLEEP I FRICKING LOVE THAT SONG OH JESUS
But, okay, I already loved The Antlers and Public Service Broadcasting - did I discover anyone new over the course of my visit to the Black Mountains? Yes, as a matter of fact, I did, and his name was Darren Hanlon. Darren Hanlon is an Australian singer-songwriter who specialises in simple, fun, light-hearted songs about...well, all sorts of things. He sounds a bit like The Burning Hell if they only played their quieter acoustic numbers.
Another of my lovely new discoveries this weekend was Benedict Benjamin, who played the Green Man Rising stage on Friday. The programme painted him as a sensitive troubadour type with songs able to move mountains, and while I usually find those types of musicians indescribably dull and entirely unmoving, blow me down if that man BB didn't deliver the feels just as promised. I Want to See You Tonight (I may have misremembered that title, apologies if so) was a highlight of his emotive set, as was his deadpan humour in between songs.
I had high expectations for Goat, the mask-wearing Swedish troupe who specialise in evil-sounding riffs 'n' rhythms with a distinctly pagan flavour, and sure enough they provided an awesome ending for the whole Green Man experience. The exceptionally animated singers deserve a show of their own, although the band behind them certainly weren't bad either. See them if you ever have the chance.
So that was my weekend. Calexico, Dan Deacon, Charles Bradley, and the Super Furry Animals were all wonderful too (as, probably, were numerous others I'm forgetting about) but now I really am long past due for a shower. Ugh.