Release Date: Apr 14, 2009
Record label: Honest Jon's
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Folk
Beauty rarely hides where you expect it. Take, for instance, the debut release by the U.K.'s Trembling Bells. It starts off as a fine neo-folk record, the kind that upholds the tradition of British folk music, updating it along the way, in this particular case with elements of alternative psychedelic rock. An aerial female singer (Lavinia Blackwall of Directing Hand), a male singer with more of a layman's voice (Alex Neilson, also the band's drummer and mastermind), and very competent musicians around them.
Merrie old England: land of Robin Hood, Sunday roast, and the Kinks—three very good things. It’s also the land of Tony Blair, sexual repression, and Benny Hill, but who’s counting? The nostalgia for a lost Britain, one that might never have even existed, permeates Carbeth, the debut album from UK band Trembling Bells. Playing old-school psychedelic folk with just a hint of Americana, Trembling Bells aim to bring the music of the Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention into the new millennium.
As a drummer, Alex Neilson has spent plenty of time around songwriters like Alasdair Roberts, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Jandek and David Tibet. You might love or hate their work, but you’re not likely to confuse it with anyone else’s. But Trembling Bells, Neilson’s own debut as a straight-up songwriter, cribs from other notebooks. He’s drawn on his personal immersion in the United Kingdon’s folk traditions and the example of bands like Fairport Convention, the Albion Band, and Steeleye Span, which all struggled with the quandary of loving music from the past and wanting to make a mark on the present.