After their ‘One, for Words’ narrowly missed out the top spot on my list of the best albums of 2012, I’m pretty sure 2013 will be another banner year for Keston Cobblers’ Club. Next Monday the 1st of July, they’ll be releasing a stop-gap of sorts in the form of new EP ‘A Scene of Plenty’. It’s perfect timing really, as the band will be appearing at Glastonbury this very weekend and there will no doubt be punters who upon hearing their dulcet voices and jaunty instruments will probably be running in droves to their laptops and glorious, speedy internet (as soon as they’re home and showered, that is) to find out more about the band. So I expect this reviewed to be read and hit upon more after Glasto than before. But anyroad…
So what do we find in ‘A Scene of Plenty’? The album starts wonkily with frenetic accordion and what sounds like frantic stepping on top of wood (?); the minor chords and the nonsensical title ‘The Children Who Wear Socks on Their Heads’ both seem like odd choices for the starting point for a summer release. I give them points for quick tempo and plenty of energy; this might be a grower, but it didn’t grab me initially as it seemed like too many things were going on at once. However, do not fret; the best is yet to come.
The second track ‘Beam’ is also the lead single from the EP that we featured previously on this Video of the Moment. “By Jove, god only knows” the harmonies and the way the voices lilt on this song are so beautiful, they made me cry. Yes, this is that good. I hesitate to say that it would have felt at home on last year’s ‘One, for Words’, for that would seem to indicate they’ve stayed in one place. Hardly. The harmonies feel tighter and sweeter on this EP, and whether or not that has to do with the summer sun’s rays beating down on my brain or not, I can’t be sure. What I can be sure of, on title track ‘A Scene of Plenty’ sits at the third position on this EP, it’s the guitars and banjo that shine on this one, their pluckings working alongside the pleasant oohs and lead vocals from Julia Lowe (later to be joined by brother Matthew’s) to weave something pretty special. It’s this song, with its talk of packing your bags for a train trip, that figures in later to its unique packaging. Read on…
Fourth track ‘We Will Heal Your Soles’ represents the inevitable homophone gag that you knew was coming from a band who named themselves after shoe makers. It’s what ‘The Children Who…’ aspired to be but never quite got there. This is a true folk toe-tapper of the highest calibre. Mumford who? Closing track ‘The Castle’ is slower, more introspective, but it rounds off the EP nicely. Lyrically, I can’t fault it at all, but for a brief snapshot of what I mean, here’s a sample: “oh I could love you every day, something different every day / oh you’ll see my smile, you’ll know that I am happy / the world may fail, but still I will be happy / see I will spoil you every day / and build that castle in your name”. That’s aching loveliness in song, that is.
Good stuff and perfect for summer. Even better, they’ve thought ahead and considered that it’s summer, and if you have children, you will have children underfoot (naturally, they’re not in school), so the interactive version of this EP folds out to a working miniature train set, complete with scenery and animals. You can be listening to the EP with your feet up while the kiddikins are busy, and therefore not bothering you, playing with the trains. Brilliant marketing.
‘A Scene of Plenty’, the new EP from Keston Cobblers’ Club, will be out on Monday (the 1st of July) on Beatnik Geek Records. If you’re sceptical about the train set, the video below shows you exactly what you get if you order the EP. (Come now, if this hasn’t sold you, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.)