“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is an excellent singer, songwriter, guitarist and all round lighting conductor that I’ve hankered after getting on these pages for some time, the leader of many great bands including Oxford’s legendary Talulah Gosh – true riot grrrl forerunners and twee pop heroes and the angrily melodic Heavenly, true flag bearers of cult label Sarah Records that’s not to forget of course Marine Research and Tender Trap. “Atta Girl” by Heavenly is one of my all time fav songs, etched in my memory and at the time on a C90 from the John Peel Festive Fifty in ’93 near the start of Velvet Sheep when it was a mere slip of a photocopied zine. Right now, in an equally vital, similarly compelling duo alongside long term sparring partner Rob Pursey, The Catenary Wires are named after the slack that appears when wires hang from pylons and I’m so pleased to have finally got the peerless Amelia Fletcher in the loop! Welcome to VS, Amelia!
Here’s a taster of The Catenary Wires album “‘Til The Morning” on cool German indie Tapete Records.
The Catenary Wires are intricately interwoven melodies and vocal interplay between the effortlessly complementary voices of Amelia and Rob – reminiscent of the ace Courtney Barnett / Kurt Vile collab, but of course up there with other great she said / he said duos like Lee & Nancy, Serge & Brigitte and more recently Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell. But also with the soaring song-writing of The Go-Betweens.
This is their second album after “Red Red Skies” on Elefant/Matinee and it has coincided with a move away by our heroes from the burbs and into the depths of the Garden of England. While it might be trendier to look at the pastoral vibes of Portland for mindful harmolodics, we need look no further than my own native Kent for pure pop tributaries beyond the enervating estuarine habitat of the hipster. The lyrics are haunting but uncluttered, intricate and intimate, nudged by the troubles of our times, but optimistic like soaring songbirds on unfettered trees or the widescreen beauty of a starry sky unpolluted by city lights. My absolute favourite is “Back On Hastings Pier” which has the air of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vein” about it and what’s not to love about that. But what song has Amelia loved lately?
Without further ado, it’s over to Amelia for a “song for ewe”…
“My choice is Thirteen Gliding Principles by The Delgados. I have been reflecting that the indie bands I loved most at the time aren’t necessarily the ones I go back and listen to now. I saw The Delgados live a couple of times and thought they were a bit uncool and boring. I did buy the albums but maybe only played them each a couple of times.
Retrospectively, though, they have become one of my favourite bands. I love the way Emma and Alun’s voices are so deadpan but yet so warm and full of emotion. And their song-writing is brilliant. The Catenary Wires specialise in duets, and I can confirm that this is the very hardest type of duet to write, with its continuous batting to and fro of the vocals at table-tennis speed. It does the whole quiet/loud thing brilliantly as well. I have no idea what it is about, if anything, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter.
I know the album version of this song best, and often play it when I DJ. But I recently spotted this live version on YouTube and was astounded by the quality of the performance. I realise the Delgados are not as obscure as many choices on Song for Ewe, but I thought they should count as they are definitely a lot more obscure than they deserve to be!”
THANKS SO MUCH AMELIA! CHEERS ALSO TO SEAN NEWSHAM, A PAL FOR THE AGES.
“‘TIL THE MORNING” IS OUT ON TAPETE RECORDS ON 14TH JUNE
THE CATENARY WIRES ARE ALSO ON TOUR (AS A FIVE PIECE) THIS SUMMER…
04.05. Words and Music at The Skep Festival, Kent
06.05. London, HQI
07.06. Welwyn Garden City, Green Room@Doctor’s Tonic
13.06. Rolvenden Layne, Ewe and Lamb (free)
14.06. London, St Pancras Old Church
17.06. Canterbury, Bramleys Cocktail Bar (As duo, free)
11.07. Bristol, Thunderbolt
12.07. Oxford, Wheatsheaf
17.07. Cambridge, Portland Arms
18.07. Ramsgate, Music Hall
19.07. Manchester, Gullivers
20.07. Newcastle, Cumberland Arms
21.07. Hebden Bridge, Trades Club
26-28.07. Indietracks Festival, Butterley
more info on the band / gigs / album here…