I was in an unusual situation last week in that I had the opportunity to go to a couple of gigs spontaneously. I was in the centre of Sheffield for meetings that finished around 8.30 and on both occasions was able to pop over to The Harley to see a couple of cracking bands. On the second night it was San Francisco’s Lumerians, a psychedelic drone combo, much of whose music I can only describe as Lalo Schifrin on steroids. Any band that has a valve amp on stage gets my vote, and their unique brand of far-from-easy listening will keep me coming back to them in the months to come I am sure.
It was, however, the first evening that left me utterly speechless with wonder. The Fossil Collective are essentially a duo from Leeds, namely David Fendick and Jonny Hooker who tour as a five piece. Their music is nothing short of beautiful, and has hardly been off my listening devices ever since.
They are one of those bands that are much more than the sum of their influences. In some ways they sound like 70s Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, and Fleetwood Mac; but also reflect more recent bands such as Arcade Fire, Midlake and, especially, Fleet Foxes. Yet they are more than this, and their sound is a very British mixture of inspiration and melancholy. It is an album that you can just melt into, yet it also has real substance and is supported by superb playing and excellent production from Steve Whitfield.
The gig consisted mainly of their album, Tell Where I Lie, played in order apart from the first two tracks being swapped round and last two tracks also in reverse order. We were even informed where side one of the lp ended which, for vinyl geeks like myself, was a really nice touch. The 150 or so of us who were there were treated to an hour in which we were transported to seemingly warmer climbs; highlights for me being a brilliant version of the album’s opener Let It Go, an absolutely sublime Wolves, an energetic On & On and a magnificent version of Magpie, which closed the main set.
So full was the little stage at The Harley that we were asked to assume that they had gone off and come on again for an encore of one track from each of their previous EPs, namely River’s Edge and Satellite (the EPs being Let It Go and On & On). I imagine that of they keep to this standard of live performance they are not going to have an issue with small stages for much longer.
Needless to say, after the gig, the box of LPs was being quickly plundered as I and a number of others sought to get our hands on the red vinyl version of the album, and what an album it is. Many really great albums can have the odd duff track on them, yet I have not considered there to be one on this one so far. Indeed, the fact that they chose to play the whole of their album live, in the way the more established (dare I say heritage) bands tend to play their classic albums, suggests a certain confidence that they have produced a body of work of which they are justly proud.
So I urge you, even if you are not particularly partial to the people I have suggested are influences of the Fossil Collective, do give them a go. You may just have found your soundtrack for the summer, I have certainly found mine.