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The first time I ever visited the Hyde Park region in Leeds was in 1989 to see a gig by The Field Mice at a pub called The Royal Park. It's a long story but I'm still passing that formidable booze palace a lot on my travels & they've just put palm trees outside so it must have some magical quality, an oasis in a desert of hungry minds. This was back in the day when they had gigs in a small roo ...

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True North by The Occasional Keepers
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9/10 Brian Staff review, 23 April 2008
The first time I ever visited the Hyde Park region in Leeds was in 1989 to see a gig by The Field Mice at a pub called The Royal Park. It's a long story but I'm still passing that formidable booze palace a lot on my travels & they've just put palm trees outside so it must have some magical quality, an oasis in a desert of hungry minds. This was back in the day when they had gigs in a small room upstairs, and as a shy teen, I was bowled over by the humble majesty these two fellas wrought from their guitars and a drum machine. In love with bleak seasons, Factory Records & driven by broken hearts & the power of fanzines, Bobby Wratten & his amiable sidekick touched this man's heart in many ways. In the last 20 years lots of fads & fashions have had a dalliance with generations of indie kids but the purity of soul on offer from The Occasional Keepers new album 'True North' is even greater than I can recall back then. This is Bobby's collaboration with Caesar & Carolyn from Scots legends The Wake who were the fragile Northern siblings of New Order on Factory. So I can truly say this 2nd offering from them is a total gem. Without space to elaborate on individual tracks, all I can reveal is that it unfolds like a brittle flower, full of wistful synths, longing vocals, sweet guitars, purring bass lines & fantastic songs. Absolutely the perfect distillation of both bands, this is a more realised & satisfying listen than I could imagine, ranking alongside the best stuff from either band. Organic electronics combined with long patented touches make this a mature, melancholic masterwork. MMM! LTM are doing the alternative community a great service in unearthing forgotten gems from this spectrum (which forms the flatbed of my musical heart!) and also pushing the sound forward with fresh treats such as this.....so they're a label with absolute mastery & pedigree in my eyes! So just buy this CD and melt. To be reminded why you were touched by all this in the first place! For younger ears, recommended if you like The Postal Service and Hood but I suspect if you are this far on I'm preaching to the converted ;0) I'm off to the west coast of Scotland tomorrow, so I'm heading true north myself! x Brian

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