Interview :: The Xcerts

“You don’t want to write a record about being on the road.” – Murray Macleod (The Xcerts)

Before their show with Taking Back Sunday in Manchester, I caught up with Murray and Jordan from The Xcerts to talk a little about the tour, playing to an audience of Charlie Simpson fans, any future recordings and what one man from Plymouth did for twenty quid. You also get a deep discussion about fishing (thank god we’re retiring that question soon).

Anthony Barlow: Hey guys, how’s it going?

Murray Macleod: It’s good.

AB: So, you’re on tour with Taking Back Sunday. How has that been?

MM: Good so far. We’ve only played one show, but it was in our homeland. It was in Glasgow and we were pretty blown away by the response. There was a lot of people singing along, which is kind of unusual for us when we’re supporting a band. Taking Back Sunday were phenomenal last night and they are some of the nicest guys we’ve ever played with. That’s always a plus.

AB: Yeah, that’s always good. How did the tour come about?

Jordan Smith: Well, there’s kind of a Long Island connection: We did our record in Long Island last year, the guy that produced it is good buddies with them from way back and they got to hearing our record. Adam liked it.

MM: I think, at the same time our producer played it to them, one of their best friends, who we had met when we were in New York, also was plugging us to the band. So i think they were getting it from two different people in New York saying “take this band out on tour.” And then, from what we gather, Adam Lazzara bought our record, which is bizarre.

JS: We’re still so pensive about saying it, because it doesn’t seem real. He owns our record and he listens to it. It’s in his collection.

AB: That’s got to be pretty cool?

JS: Very cool.

MM: It feels weird talking about it. He was talking about us on stage and we were looking up listening to him talk about our band. It was like: “What is going on?”

AB: Do you think you guys are received well by the Taking Back Sunday crowd then?

MM: I think so. I don’t think we sound like Taking Back Sunday, but there’s definitely similarities, I think. There’s a lot of common ground there, from what they’re into and what we’re into. I think, from the crowd’s perspective, we’re probably not too far away, as a support band, from what they do. But it varies, in Nottingham it was a cold crowd. And I don’t think they warmed to us all that much. But we played in London and Glasgow with them and both of those shows were great. I don’t know, it’s a tough one. Depends on a lot of things, I guess.

AB: No one asking you to play Reuben covers then? *laughs*

MM: No

AB: *laughs* Just me then. You’ve been on some pretty big tours this year, the Charlie Simpson tour being the last one. It must have been hard on you guys dealing with that kind of crowd.

JS: They are an interesting crowd. Especially as Charlie has a lot to deal with anyway from fans of his previous incarnations and everybody’s at the show. There’s people there who’ve just heard the record, and people who know him as Charlie Simpson. To go up and face that kind of crowd, especially considering that none of them had ever heard of us before, definitely.

AB: You guys played acoustic for that tour too.

MM: Yeah, it was kind of stripped down. I mean, we had electric guitar and some drums and percussion, but it was nice to tour like that. It was a lot more laid back for us, not that we stress about full band shows, but we really want to play as well as we can every single night to whoever.

JS: There’s a lot more to worry about with full band shows.

MM: Yeah, on that one we were relaxed, which was nice. It felt weird, it kinda felt more like a holiday.

JS: It was casual.

MM: Yeah, it was casual.

JS: There was no gear. It was a really easy load in. It was good. We really got into it after two or three shows.

AB: Has it affected your fanbase being on these tours?

MM: Yeah, the Charlie tour was a resounding success, in fact. It was bizarre. We couldn’t really gauge it on stage, it was weird. I did a lot more talking on that tour. On our own sets or these shows I barely talk, because I just want to make noise. On the Charlie tour we did a lot more talking and a lot more interacting with people, which was really interesting for us. And we could only really gauge it by how many records we were selling at the end of the night. But we spoke to a lot of people, a lot of people have joined us on the social networks and that’s really the only big tour we’ve done this year. So it’s weird. We did the Rocksound tour, a headline tour, and Fu Manchu in Europe, but it’s weird that that was a big tour for us and we weren’t even doing what we usually do.

AB: You say that, but would you have rather done that tour as full band?

MM: No

JS: With respect for Charlie and what he’s doing, to come on as full band and blow the roof off the place before he comes on and plays his really sweet, Bright Eyes sounding, acoustic music would have been a little inappropriate.

AB: You could have totally stolen the show.

JS: Yes. We could have.

MM: Only because of noise voice.

JS: Yeah, decibels.

AB: *laughs* You’ve said you’ve seen an increase in people interacting with you online and buying the record, do you think these people will now be expecting a new full length from you or something along those lines?

MM: I don’t know. I think the people who are just getting into us are probably excited about the fact that we have two records out.

JS: Yeah, they can go back and get into both of them.

MM: It’s seems like, from what people have said to us, they’re just excited to be getting into us now.

JS: It’s more the hardcore fans that are badgering us for new stuff.

AB: Well, you’ve released the cover of ‘Drinking In LA’. Is that the new direction? Is drinking in LA just de rigueur for you now?

JS: *laughs*

MM: Basically, we’re re-releasing our song ‘Slackerpop’ and we recorded four tracks stripped down, like we did for the Charlie tour, because a lot of people who didn’t see us on that tour were asking about it. So, basically, when you buy the flexidisc of the single, you get a code to download four stripped down tunes. As an incentive to get people’s email addresses we decided to do a cover and that one came up, and we’re all big fans of that song, and we thought we could do a pretty cool cover of it.

JS: It’s a cool song, despite the kinda nihilistic lyrics and stuff.

MM: The guy raps in the verses, so I didn’t have to rap.

JS: You rap.

MM: I do rap.

AB: You should totally rap.

JS: He’s got mad rhymes.

MM: We did contemplate it. The first take I just had a microphone, and we did it pretty raw, and I was like “should I rap?” I was like no “sing it”.

AB: *laughs* I’m disappointed you didn’t rap now. Aside from that you did release the EP in March, any plans for something like that again?

MM: No. We’re going to release this single, and then we’re going to be touring until the end of the year, with that. Then we’ve got some plans to keep touring in the new year and then we’re going to make another record.

JS: We’ll do the same as last time, just do it whenever we find the space.

MM: The first record lasted, basically, going on a year. This seems like it’s going to last longer, which is cool, because it’s going to give us time for the new stuff. When we went out to the States for the second record we kind of had bits and bobs and loose ends with us. I think this time we want to make sure every song is perfect.

JS: It’s better for you, because it’s such a classic scenario for a band that’s just on the road all the time. When they finish touring they have to record their album there and then, so they try to write songs on the road and maybe that’s why you get shoddy second records, or whatever, because a band has toured to death. They’ve got to rush out ten songs or whatever.

MM: You don’t want to write a record about being on the road.

JS: Yeah, no one wants a road record.

AB: Speaking of writing records on the road, you’ve got this new single coming out and you’ve been saying how your fanbase has grown so me, my colleague and Geoff Rickly from Thursday were wondering if we could get bands to donate a percentage of their profits from releases towards a Chuck Ragan fishing show.

JS: *laughs*

MM: Geoff Rickly?

JS: He wants Chuck Ragan to have his own fishing show?

AB: He said it was “his dream”.

JS: How much are we talking?

AB: Whatever you want.

MM: You’re going to be hard pressed to find a band with any record profits *laughs*. I would love to see Chuck Ragan on my telly talking about fishing.

Album Review :: Jim Ward – Quiet In the Valley, On the Shores The End Begins

“Quiet In The Valley, On The Shores The End Begins still feels like a Jim Ward project.”

Going acoustic seems to be the trend for many punk rockers nowadays but it came as a surprise to me when I heard Jim Ward was putting out a solo album. What’s more, I found out he’d been putting out a selection of acoustic EP’s for years. How this had slipped under my radar, I’ll never know. What I did know was it needed to be remedied.

With At The Drive-In, Ward helped to create some of the most interesting music to come out of the post-hardcore scene, so I had high expectations for his first solo full length. I’m happy to report that Jim’s talents have transferred well into the world of acoustic music. Unlike the majority of punk rockers who decide to go ‘unplugged’, this is not folk punk. Instead, Ward had adopted a more traditional country sound for his solo work. Despite this, Quiet In The Valley, On The Shores The End Begins still feels like a Jim Ward project.

Though it’s certainly softer, and more heartfelt, there are tracks on here that lean towards Jim’s more experimental side. There’s sections of added instrumentation in a lot of the tracks that flesh them out and differentiate these songs from those of other, similar artists. On ‘Mystery Talks’, for example, the addition of a Spanish-style guitar part makes all the difference. It helps flesh out a simple song, and into a lot more. Not only that, but it clearly shows how Jim, a lifelong El Paso resident, was influenced by the music around him. Additional vocals are also quite prevalent but, unlike a lot of ‘stripped down’ releases, they’re used sparsely and effectively. Tegan Quinn’s vocals on ‘Broken Songs’ being a prime example.

Once the initial fourteen tracks are done, there’s a further six bonus tracks included on a separate disc. These tracks are electric versions of six of the original acoustic songs and they sound fantastic. Those wanting a more familiar experience with Jim Ward’s music might feel a little more at home here. The tracks transfer over really well. In fact, as good as the main album is, I might prefer these and would love to see this idea expanded on in a future release. It might be that Jim’s style of songwriting just fits a full band setting more.

That being said, Quiet In The Valley, On The Shores The End Begins is certainly a quality collection of  country songs, and therein lies my only gripe. This release definitely feels less like an album and more like a collection of EP’s. Of course, that’s because that’s what it is. All of these songs were recorded at different times over the space of four years. It was going to be especially hard to make it sound cohesive, and it’s not quite worked out. Regardless, it still makes for great listening.

Single Review :: Crazy Arm – Tribes

“…I can’t wait to hear what the Crazy Arm boys have in store for us in September.”

I’ve made it pretty clear in the past that Born To Ruin is one of my favorite albums in a long time. Crazy Arm’s brand of gruff, melodic, political punk was a breath of fresh air and I’ve been hooked ever since. The guys are gearing up for the release of their second album and, if ‘Tribes’ (and previous single ‘Ambertown’) is anything to go by, Union City Breath will be another top notch release from the Plymouth-based band.

Like a lot of Crazy Arm’s material, ‘Tribes’ is a very socially conscious track. The line: “I don’t want to live in a fucked up world” opens up the song and perfectly captures the message the band are trying to spread. It’s a track that deals, primarily, with equality and promotes the idea that, no matter what sex or race a person might be, they have rights. It encourages morality, but manages to stray away from feeling overly preachy. When a song has such a clear message that can be hard to avoid and can often feel like it’s been laid on a bit too thick. That isn’t the case here. Musically, it’s everything you’d expect from a Crazy Arm song. The rabble-rousing track is driven by awesome, forceful, guitar playing and kept together by the solid rhythm section. The drums are particularly prevalent, but that’s no bad thing. The changes in pace are fantastic and, coupled with Darren’s fantastic vocal range, really help to drive the message of the track home.

The quality continues with the B-side. ‘Help For Heroines’ relies heavily on the the roots punk/country punk sound that differentiates Crazy Arm from the rest of the bands in the current UK scene. That being said, it doesn’t lay off on the intensity. It’s still fast paced and best played at full volume. If this is the quality of tracks that were cut from Union City Breath, I can’t wait to hear what the Crazy Arm boys have in store for us in September.

You can’t go wrong here – Two great tracks from a great band. Buy the single, go to the shows and support them any way you can. The band head off on their first ever UK acoustic tour later this month, with Cory Branan and Sam Russo. Following that, they’ll be touring across Europe with Against Me!, on their headline shows, in November. There’s details of their future touring plans here.

Interview :: Ben Marwood

“It does feel good, and a relief that it’s actually happened, because, otherwise, we could be chasing our tails forever” – Ben Marwood

We may have caught up with Ben Marwood back in February, but that didn’t mean we had nothing to ask him. Ben was on tour with Frank Turner and Franz Nicolay when we stopped him in Manchester. The show at the Night & Day Cafe was a sellout, but Ben seemed to be taking it all in his stride. We talked about finally getting to tour with Frank, the reception of the new album and we pitched our latest effort as TV producers.

Review :: Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

“I don’t think that time he had a gun pulled on him in a Bolton takeway would’ve really fit with the theme he was going for here…”

Two years after the release of his last full length, Frank Turner is back with England Keep My Bones. Poetry Of The Deed marked a change in style for Frank, and whilst it was still a folk record, he managed to create something bigger and bolder than what had gone before. This latest record is undoubtedly a folk record before anything else and, although The Sleeping Souls (Frank’s band) are back, England Keep My Bones is Frank’s most intimate and personal record to date.

The first thing I noticed about the album is that it feels a lot more ‘stripped down’ than it’s predecessor. The band are still present, but they play a slightly adapted role than on Poetry Of The Deed. For the most part they provide subtle instrumental accompaniment to Frank’s acoustic guitar and vocal but, every once in a while, they’ll bring out the big guns and hit you with everything they’ve got. Striking a the balance between the ‘one man and a guitar’ acoustic stuff and an energetic full-band experience. ‘If I Ever Stray’ is a perfect example of this: It opens with an acoustic guitar and Frank’s vocal, slowly building to crescendo (complete with brass band) before fading back down into a soft acoustic melody.

It’s the softer, more heartfelt, tracks that make this album so great. ‘Wessex Boy’ – which features, the excellently eccentric, Franz Nicolay – and ‘Rivers’ are just two examples that capture exactly what this album is about. Almost every track here sees Frank looking back at moments of his life and the places he’s been. Of course, there’s an element of ‘rose tinted glasses’ employed – I don’t think that time he had a gun pulled on him in a Bolton takeway would’ve really fit with the theme he was going for here – but it never feels contrived or overly nationalist in any way. If anything it feels like a very brave record for Frank. Like all of his stuff it’s very earnest, occasionally straying into realms of self deprecation.

Of course, it isn’t a perfect record by any means. On each of Frank’s albums there seems to be one track that just doesn’t seem to fit. It’s not a bad song, but ‘One Foot Before The Other’ caprtures exactly what talking about. Although it fits the album lyrically, it seems out of place on a musical level. It’s a very dark track, the darkest on the record, and the instrumentation certainly compliments that. It just feels a little too ‘hard’ in comparison to the rest of the album. Million Dead fans are in for a treat with that one though. The other track that feels like a bit of a ‘miss’ is ‘English Curse’.  Played live, it’s one of those songs that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. However, that power hasn’t transferred to the recording and it’s a real shame.

There’s very little wrong with England Keep My Bones. I’d go as far to say that Frank has perfected his craft with this album. It’s poignant and heartfelt, but manages to be fun and uplifting at the same time. If any album was going to propel Frank into the mainstream, it’s this one. Though I’m sure his ‘atheist anthem’ will piss a few people off.

Video :: Dicking Around In That Dingy Corner Over There With No Lights (Leeds)


It’s been a while since we’ve had a ‘Dicking Around in…’ go up on Moon & Back. They were hit with massive delays after a Manchester burlesque troupe recruited us to make their new promo (massive plug!). With that done, we went back to making videos filled with music and low-brow humor. Dicking Around in That Dingy Corner Over There With No Lights (Leeds) was filmed way back in December when Crazy Arm and Apologies, I Have None made their way to Leeds. If you want to hear some great music (with, admittedly, dark visuals), have a laugh and learn what “Munting” means check out the video below.

Podcast :: Under The Bridge #18: “Do Squirrels Have Knuckles?”

“You could, like, cure AIDS with the theremin…” – Ian Critchley

Here we are for another Under The Bridge, it’s time to spent another hour or so listening to “drunken louts” offend the world with their views. I hope you all know that we are not full of hate and everything we say is in jest. We have another guest this week, and he’s a musical guest too. As Cara Moore correctly guessed, Ben Marwood is joining us this time around. He’s here to discuss the week in music and to talk about his forthcoming jaunt around the UK with Frank Turner and Franz Nicolay. Tune in for fun, frolics and a fuck load of swearing!

Go on, have a listen!

Under The Bridge #18: “Do Squirrels Have Knuckles?”

(Subscribe on iTunes)

Music – Ben Marwood

  • Singalong
  • Tell Avril Lavigne I Didn’t Want To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway
  • Oh My Days
  • They Will Float Your Body Out To Sea
  • District Sleeps Alone Tonight (Postal Service Cover)


  • Morrissey announces new UK tour
  • Frank Turner Minute
  • The Foo Fighters
  • Britney Spears
  • Nerve Centre call the (thought) police
  • Rise Against to stream Electric Ballroom show online
  • Iron Chic debut LP released on Banquet Records
  • Lots of festival news
  • Jimmy Eat World playing London and Cardiff
  • Alkaline Trio finish recording “reimagined” album
  • Green Day to release, live album, ‘Awesome As Fuck’ through Adeline Records
  • Bowling For Soup announce new album
  • Screeching Weasel stream new record

Main Topic

  • Ben’s touring with Frank Turner and Franz Nicolay in May.



Where Can We Find You On The Internet?




  • Twitter – BenMarwoodMusic
  • Facebook – Ben Marwood

The Podcast

Moon & Back

Video :: Dicking Around Up North (Featuring: Frank Turner, Dive Dive & Ed Harcourt)

After a slight leave of absence Dicking Around Productions is back to provide you with another unruly travel diary. This time we’re taking you on a tour of three cities in the North of England.

Frank Turner took to the road yet again at the end of 2010 and, being the good disciples we are, we followed him as far as we could. Armed with our trusty flip camera we set about filming our foibles in Preston, Sheffield and Liverpool. Only in this video can you see how one Preston off license took inspiration from Against Me!, find out about the Hungarian history behind Sheffield and see an ‘explosion’ in the center of Liverpool.

Check it out below.

Interview :: Ben Marwood

“How can you give up music? I’d rather give up food. food costs more!” – Ben Marwood

Ben Marwood could be described as many things: Talented. Lovely. From Reading. The truth is, he’s all of these things! He was in Leeds earlier this month, touring to promote his new album so we went over to bother him in the upstairs room of a pub. We find out his secret to great touring, how much he owes Frank Turner and what will happen if you don’t go and buy Outside There’s A Curse.

Anthony Barlow: First night of the tour tonight?

Ben Marwood: Yeah, pretty well! I’m excited and tired, but not as tired as Barry [Oxygen Thief] should be, because Barry’s driven for hours and hours to get here.

Barry Dolan: I feel fine!

BM: Barry feels fine! I sat there eating digestive biscuits and singing stuff from the Karate Kid soundtrack and I’m knackered! But, I’m excited to start, because I think its going to be a good tour and I haven’t been on tour for a while.

AB: From what we’re hearing here it sounds like it’ll be a good tour!

BM: Well yeah, should be, I’ve got some really good company.

AB: The banter just sets it off straight away.

BM: *Laughs* Tonight should be quite important because its the first night of the tour, and other highlights, I can’t wait to play an ice cream parlour in Oxford, that’s amazing! And obviously we’re doing reading for the proper album launch.

AB: You’re playing with Oxygen Thief tonight, is it good to be on tour with someone you’ve know for a long time?

BM: Oh yeah definitely, its always really good to be on tour with Oxygen Thief, I have to call him Oxygen Thief because he doesn’t like me calling him Barry, his name is Barry! It’s good because he’s a great laugh and he’s a good driver, and he’s doing the accounts and he’s done all the merch.

Ian Critchley: You’re just kicking back?

BM: *laughs* I’m sure gonna put on a guitar, that’ll be it.

OT: I do all the work and Ben gets all the glory basically.

BM: I don’t even know what I’m doing here, it should be him headlining.

IC: Have you heard about Frank Turners plan of getting you and Tim Barry on tour with him?

BM: I heard rumour of it, when did he tell you that? I heard about that in December but haven’t heard anything since. But I’ve been busy with getting the album out, but yeah, I’m waiting for the call, Frank, I’m waiting for the call!

AB: How many times as he said he owes you a tour?

BM: He’s told me like a million times! But we still never tour. He’s a man of his word and we’ll get there eventually.

IC: When you’re old and grey?

BM: Yeah, he’ll ring me up when I’m 62 and be like, “Ben I’ve got this opportunity…” and I’ll be like, “Yeah sure, I don’t remember any of my songs but sure, also, Frank who?” But yeah, who wouldn’t want to do that?

AB: We’ll be there!

BM: Yeah, me too!

IC: Lexapalooza lite next month, are you playing?

BM: I’m not playing, its the first time I’ve not played in ages. I’m touched, they have this thing where you can’t play two in a row but I’ve played three in a row and they invited me to play this one but I’m not in the country. So, I can’t do it and I’m absolutely gutted. Its always a good show

IC: Last time, I kissed a bar maid for a pound! The guy just kind of, got two of them and was like, which one? Like it was a cattle market!

BM: You kissed a barmaid? Was it worth it?

IC: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t like (tongue kiss emulation face) but it was a nice peck!

BM: *laughs* but yeah, Lexapalooza is for a good cause and its always good fun! Where is it being held this time around?

AB: We’re not sure.

BM: Make sure you find that out! Obviously it’s not the Flower Pot, because that’s not there anymore!

IC: Everywhere you guys go, you just seem to destroy!

BM: Everywhere that Frank goes! It’s terrible what happened to the flower pot but its great they found somewhere new!

IC: You have some interesting merch on sale tonight…

BM: Yeah yeah!

IC: Can you see Ben Marwood FTW hats being in Topman by next summer? They did cash in on the Ramones…

BM: *laughs* I guess that depends on how the album goes, if both of you want to go out and buy 10,000 copies of the album….

AB: Your new record is coming out on the 24th….

BM: Actually its the 31st now! They put it back a week. Due to, I dunno, VAT rise, I’m not sure! It’s delayed a week for pressing the mass amount of units for recycling.

AB: Can you tell us about the record? Why should people buy it?

BM: Because otherwise Xtra Mile are gonna come round and break my legs. That’s reason one. Reason two is, its a good album I’m proud of it, especially for the budget. It was recorded for under a grand and mastered on that too! It was all done on an 8-track in my bedroom and other peoples houses. But yeah, it took about a year to put together and another 9 months to get out, but if you like your folk music, which you all should! Go out and buy it, because otherwise I’m gonna be killed, its gonna be like the wickerman.

AB: Who are the Xtra Mile heavies?

BM: They’re all heavies, they’re all shady types. No, they’re all nice people, I went up to their offices and was thoroughly wowed by the fact they even had an office. With my record label its just me in my bedroom, but with Xtra Mile they’re right in the money because they’re a press outfit too and you can see with the work they’ve done with Frank and Chris TT.

IC: You have a lot of freebies out there, would you consider doing a Ben Marwood compilation?

BM: I don’t know if I could if I could release a compilation of what I’ve given away for free. I don’t know if I’m that cynical. I could do like, Ben Marwood up until now!

IC: Just make as much money as possible!

BM: Well yeah! I’m actually selling copies of the tour poster for a pound, that’s how desperate we are to try and break even on this thing! I still work a normal desk job Monday to Friday, its not very entertaining. Sorry if anyone at work is hearing this. It makes touring quite difficult, but its the only way I can make money back, because there isn’t much money in music these days!

IC: This Is Not What You Had Planned was released to critical acclaim, what would you have done if everyone had slagged the fuck out of it?

BM: What would I have done!? *laughs.* I tell you what, I’d have been, not surprised. No, I was really happy that it went well, but, up until that point I’d gotten such bad reviews for everything else I’d done, I would have just carried on, maybe have done the album on a smaller scale.

AB: Like released on a  tape?

BM: Release one copy on a cassette tape and instead of buying it from a shop you just paid to borrow it from me for a day and record it onto another cassette tape and there would be no art work there’d just be a stick figure! So yeah, if it had not done very well. I wouldn’t of quit, because quitting is for quitters. A lot of my friends have given up on music, that’s a bit depressing. How can you give up music? I’d rather give up food. food costs more!

IC: We have two more questions, do you think the band Reuben failed financially because Jamie Lenman spent too much money on stupid suits and tash wax?

BM: *laughs* He didn’t have that tash! That’s like a hobby he’s taken up since! But yes, I definitely think so, okay yes, and shampoo.

IC: and finally, true or false Pavarotti had two stomachs, one for food and one for drink?

BM: *laughs* he had three stomachs didn’t he? One for food, one for drink and one for singing? He’d just drink loads of singing. Then he just belt it out, open his stomach up and go OOOOOORRRRRR!

IC: What orifice would singing go into? The mouth?

BM: Yeah obviously, its not like a suppository, your disgusting! Who would win out of a fight between Jamie Lenman and Pavarotti? Seeing as Pavarotti is dead now?

IC: I think Jamie Lenman, because he’s alive. He’d just kick his bones and that’d be it.

BM: Definitely the winner of that one.

Album Review :: Ben Marwood – Outside There’s A Curse

“I guess that I could be the next big thing, but that would just be weird” – Ben Marwood

To many Ben Marwood will appear to be the latest name to fall under the banner of ‘new folk’. The fact is, Ben was one of the few that instigated this musical phenomenon, and this latest effort could take him from working behind a desk to performing in front on thousands.

It’s taken about seven years, but Ben Marwood’s first proper full length has finally surfaced. The, Reading-born, singer/songwriter/folk hero has garnered quite a lot of attention whilst paying his dues in London’s thriving folk scene. After the release of This Is Not What You Had Planned – a seven-track ‘mini album’ – and a split with Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief, many are anticipating the arrival of Ben’s first proper album.

Marwood’s, often self deprecating, tales of life, love and loss tug on the heart strings and will resonate with almost everyone that listens. Combining the banal and macabre with fantastic turns of phrase, it’s clear, that Ben is doing this because he loves to do it. At the same, time he proves that the art of songwriting is far from dead, “I’ll play until my fingers hurt and grit my teeth trough every word, like I’m the only introvert who wants to seize the day,” being a prime example.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an album filled with dourness and depression. There’s sing-alongs and seriousness in equal measure lead by Ben and his acoustic guitar. It came as a surprise to hear him being backed by a full band on some of the tracks, but it’s a great addition that gives the album a richer and more diverse sound. Granted it can get a little sketchy in parts, but on the whole it’s fantastic.

Ben has worked his arse off to make this album happen and it’s paid off. Outside There’s A Curse is a fantastic collection of songs from one of Britain’s finest singer/songwriters. Ben’s ability to combine poetic turns of phrase and pop culture references is fantastic and makes his latest effort his best and most complete. Go and buy this quick, before the Xtra Mile heavies break his legs*

* Yes, that’s a joke!