“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. In this their 30th year of existence, the ever awesome Olympia punk label Kill Rock Stars (home of Elliott Smith, Bikini Kill, Decemberists et al) have been busy. Today’s guest is half of the newly signed band Tele Novella who are the kindred spirits of Allan-a-Dale of Sherwood Forest, medieval minstrels in a punk rock world, cyclonically lifted and mystically tranposed to a dustbowl of a Texan road. Embodying the spirit of Marty Robbins honey voiced “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs”, the voice of Natalie Ribbons despite its sweetness can still cut you into the proverbial shreds, while the faint clippity clop of colts whip up an atmosphere of otherworldly fairy tale and legend.

Along with partner in crime Jason Chronis, Tele Novella have an album entitled “Merlynn Belle” out on 5th February, and Natalie has dropped by to these annals to avow a sand-swept and storied song that she’s enjoyed lately. Welcome to VS, Natalie Ribbons!

The songs of “Merlynn Belle” are entrancing and utterly timeless. It will come as no surprise that Natalie owns a vintage shop and Jason digs in the crates for vinyl oddities, as this is a pair who are like zig zag wanderers up a yellow brick road heading back through time.  At a squint they could be the Moldy Peaches but they are way more deliciously hi-fi and intrically woven. Coming from separate projects –  Agent Ribbons, Voxtrot, Belaire – theirs was a meeting of eccentric and eclectic minds, which backed with a full band and moving from Austin to Lockhart, Texas, is coming to a colourful fruition.

The recording process is minimalist and restrained but still disciplined: songs were written and recorded one at a time. Each part was recorded in whole takes, rather than assembled through editing. And the entire album was  tracked onto an 8-track cassette recorder with the loving attention of veteran engineer Danny Reisch.

The result is baroque, cow-punk in spirit, chamber pop in essence, and it’s as tempting to imbibe as a fairy tale bottle imperatively emblazoned “DRINK ME”. Both magical and madrigal…

But for a band that’s as hard to pin down as a tumbleweed anachronistically blowing across the ramparts of a medieval castle, what tune did Natalie choose for our perennial feature? Without further ado, this is Natalie Ribbons’ “song for ewe”…

“I’ve been draping myself in the luxury of this tune to keep me feeling dreamy and cozy as the temperature drops. I love the milky silky husk of Mary’s vocal in this recording, and I am always entranced by the sounds that Les Paul gets out of his damn guitar!

Metallic, jazzy atmosphere, like the patterns of light that a pool throws on a wall at golden hour. Just perfect, simple beauty”

“Smoke Rings” by Les Paul and Mary Ford.


“Merlynn Bell” is out on 5 Feb via Kill Rock Stars – check out all the linkage below.

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