Liam the Younger – Revel Hidden Worlds
I’ve found it hard to find the time to listen to new music as much as I used to. Work, then music work which isn’t my ‘proper’ work, then work experience to try and get a better ‘proper’ job. It’s all very exciting in the life of the Tadpole. However, for this week whilst Mr. and Mrs. Toad are sipping cocktails, taunting hipsters and doing their best to be anti-smoozers in SXSW, I’m looking after their cats. This also happens to coincide with me being off ‘proper’ work (read: folding overpriced t-shirts with Kelly Kapowski on them) so it really is the perfect opportunity to catch up on any releases I happen to have missed over the last couple of months.
My first port of call was the ever-brilliant label Underwater Peoples. Their eclectic roster includes some of my favourite indie releases of the last few years; Andrew Cedermark, Big Troubles, Real Estate, Ducktails, Julian Lynch. Pretty good, huh? So naturally I was kicking my own balls when I noticed they had re-released a couple of nihilist troubadour, and founding member of Titus Andronicus, Liam the Younger’s albums.
‘Revel Hidden Worlds’ was self-released back in 2010, and much like his Underwater Peoples and former Titus Andronicus alma matter Andrew Cedermark, Liam the Younger takes a more restrained approach to crafting his songs than Titus Andronicus’ in-your-face-with-melodrama approach. On his other two Underwater Peoples re-releases, After the Graveyard/Clear Skies Over Black River, Liam Betson is akin to Conor Oberst mixed with Woody Guthrie in his song-writing. Often the nihilist, and always self-deprecating Betson turns it up a notch with Revel Hidden Worlds, with the fuller band sound helping to intensify his song-writing.
The fact he mixes a tale about him being a constant disappointment (‘Lie’) with classic 50’s love song ‘Earth Angel’ is just a glimpse of the sort of dark humour and sadness Betson puts in his songs. ‘Ode’ harkens back to his previous two albums for the first half and then, as if he is sick of the song being a wee bit too nice, he makes everything that little bit louder. ‘Bob Dylan’ is the same, with that unrelentingly fuzzy garage sound not unlike his former band. I think why I prefer this to his other two re-releases is that it sounds like Betson clearly just got fed up with his songs playing it nice all the time. You’ve got to admire this sort of ‘fuck it, turn it up’ attitude and I really couldn’t fault this album. It’s earnestness, intensity and craft combined make it a record which really ticks all of my musical boxes. Thank goodness for time off, Underwater Peoples and cats, otherwise I may never have discovered this.
Buy all of Liam the Younger’s re-releases from Underwater PeoplesMore: liam the younger, underwater peoples