Those who haven’t heard of The Travelling Band can probably form an accurate enough picture of them from that terrible name. You just know they’d be the type to sit alongside the lingering Mumford and Sons, probably ‘eating lentil soup with their sleeves rolled up’, as Liam Gallagher so eloquently worded it in 2013. You wouldn’t be too wrong either, but The Travelling Band have thankfully left the overly trodden ‘folk revival’ path and instead decided to walk on the grassy verge adjacent.
Leaving Glastonbury in 2008 with the New Talent title, The Travelling Band are petering upwards, creating a loyal fanbase dotted with famous faces, such as Michael Eavis and Marc Riley. Their third album, The Big Defreeze (which thankfully isn’t about cleaning your freezer as the title suggests), is rife with their trademark ‘cosmic-country-pop’, although is a tale of two halves. The first is brimming with jangly guitar pop songs, namely ‘Garbo’ and ‘Quicksand’, whilst the latter half (and much more interesting side) shows off Steve Mullen’s guitar craftsmanship, neatly building psychedelic, sonic soundscapes in otherwise spaced, progressive tracks. ‘Sticks and Stones’ is the standout track, vast and anthemic, reminiscent of ‘OK Computer’-era Radiohead and full of anguish, understandably so considering it was written in a hospital ward beside lead singer Jo Dudderidge’s mother.
The album is much more entertaining lyrically than musically, with a tidy hybrid of clichés, lyrics that leave you thinking and multiple themes throughout, such as motivational songs aimed at depressed best friends (‘Garbo’) and ‘one for the drunks’ (‘Fallen’). The Travelling Band have triumphed with The Big Defreeze, although they’ve not quite reached the heights of musical talent hailing from Manchester over the past 50 years. They have, however, stamped their own brand on folk music, and for that Manchester, Liam included, should be proud.
photo 1: thetravellingband.co.uk
photo 2: greenman.net