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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Left With Pictures – Beyond Our Means – An Album Review

"The Toby and Stu Show"

Written by Gareth David

union building
Last week was Community Week in Leeds, cheapest meaning all week Leeds University Union hosted various events on their campus aimed at students and ways in which we can make a positive difference in our local community.

Kicking off rather appropriately with ‘Talking Rubbish’ on Monday, wheelie bins were hot on the agenda due to the bin strike in Leeds which has amazingly reached its 12th week now because of rows over unfair pay. The vast amount of recyclable waste which had not been collected since the beginning of September when the strike began was finally shifted this week, and residents can expect letters from Leeds City Council informing them of the changes to be made in their area.

james

Image courtesy of James Maxfield

 

On Wednesday it was ‘Safe in the knowledge’, a day aimed at teaching ways we can prevent burglary in the LS6 area. For example did you know that, according to the union’s ‘Knowledge’ campaign, in 2008 almost 52% of student homes burgled were due to open doors or windows? So first step: Shut your windows, lock your doors! It is pretty easy to pop out or even just upstairs and forget to lock the front door. Most of the burglary stories I’ve heard happened to people who were in the house at the time, for instance last year someone wandered into my friend’s house in the middle of the day, pinched their underwear and left a ‘surprise’ in the middle of the carpet. The Knowledge website offers practical advice on preventing burglary and making your student home a more secure place.

 

Thursday was concerned with volunteering. The Union runs a great volunteering service which supports students who want to give a little back locally and abroad. For instance why not become a Carbon Ambassador? Sounds pretty impressive and you receive FREE training in energy efficiency practices, and what’s more you can then share your new skills by giving talks in your area and teach others ways they can cut carbon emissions.

The week finished off on Friday with Representation, which gave you the chance to chat about anything community related that may be worrying you, such as poor street lighting, recycling, suspicious take-aways, anything. Community Week may be over but Leeds students can still get down to the Union at any time. Go meet the student representatives and find out how you can get involved in local campaigns and make your neighbourhood just a little bit lovelier.
Last week was Community Week in Leeds, illness meaning all week Leeds University Union hosted various events on their campus aimed at students and ways in which we can make a positive difference in our local community.

Kicking off rather appropriately with ‘Talking Rubbish’ on Monday, wheelie bins were hot on the agenda due to the bin strike in Leeds which has amazingly reached its 12th week now because of rows over unfair pay. The vast amount of recyclable waste which had not been collected since the beginning of September when the strike began was finally shifted this week, and residents can expect letters from Leeds City Council informing them of the changes to be made in their area.

james

Image courtesy of James Maxfield

 

On Wednesday it was ‘Safe in the knowledge’, a day aimed at teaching ways we can prevent burglary in the LS6 area. For example did you know that, according to the union’s ‘Knowledge’ campaign, in 2008 almost 52% of student homes burgled were due to open doors or windows? So first step: Shut your windows, lock your doors! It is pretty easy to pop out or even just upstairs and forget to lock the front door. Most of the burglary stories I’ve heard happened to people who were in the house at the time, for instance last year someone wandered into my friend’s house in the middle of the day, pinched their underwear and left a ‘surprise’ in the middle of the carpet. The Knowledge website offers practical advice on preventing burglary and making your student home a more secure place.

 

Thursday was concerned with volunteering. The Union runs a great volunteering service which supports students who want to give a little back locally and abroad. For instance why not become a Carbon Ambassador? Sounds pretty impressive and you receive FREE training in energy efficiency practices, and what’s more you can then share your new skills by giving talks in your area and teach others ways they can cut carbon emissions.

unionbuilding

Image courtesy of Leeds University Union

The week finished off on Friday with Representation, which gave you the chance to chat about anything community related that may be worrying you, such as poor street lighting, recycling, suspicious take-aways, anything. Community Week may be over but Leeds students can still get down to the Union at any time. Go meet the student representatives and find out how you can get involved in local campaigns and make your neighbourhood just a little bit lovelier.
LWP1

Imagine “The Toby and Stu Show”. Stu plays the wide-eyed earnest young fella around town He flirts with girls, this analyses his flirtations with girls, works as a music teacher, hides from reality in the glow of his pupils and a little coke, seeks adventure and love, and muses the passing of planes overhead, destined for places he’ll never go. He’s romantic, but charismatic with it. Stimpy, in some ways, you might say.
Toby is very different. He’s the cynical introverted Ren, with a penchant for nostalgia and dissecting the failings of himself and others.
And so it goes. “Our imaginary meetings are over cigarettes and wine, I think we should have met in California in ’69″ shrugs Stu, winking at a pretty filly with tentative seduction. Toby follows up, lamenting his inability to be cool; “I’m sick to my soul by an envy deep within, cos the gang collect old vinyl and they play the mandolin.”
It wouldn’t work on TV, let’s face it, but luckily, the nice fellas down at Left With Pictures have packaged themselves up not on the Paramount Comedy channel, but on Organ Grinder Records (the same label that gloriously brought us The Mules).

LWP3
And they know exactly what they’re doing. These are chaps who could probably finish Beethoven’s Unfinished without upsetting anyone, yet they are putting their divine knowledge in the service of the best folk pop ditties you ever heard. The first six tracks on this album are so heavenly you could almost quit your job to spend more time with them. And so very hummable. You find yourself strolling around schizophrenically switching from your Stu impression to your Toby impression whilst trying to hold the idea of the magic chord there in your head. All day long!
Comparisons are tricky. At times it’s like Donovan guiding Noel Coward supporting Ray Davies encouraging Jim O’Rourke flirting with Beth Orton pulling Jeremy Warmsley a wedgie, but that doesn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it’s because Left With Pictures are concerned with song writing in the purest sense. Other bands can fret about getting their dynamite sound. This band will just assemble the chords and the melodies and the anecdotes that belong to the song. Bless them.

LWP2

The production and arrangement are faultless. Toby’s piano and Stu’s guitar and banjo are nice and clear. A wizard named Rob pops in to play some beautiful violin support. And there are a couple of other gentlemen responsible for some drumming and French Horn. All of it sits beautifully with quite the clarity of Feist, but more bare (gosh, there’s a pleasant thought).
After the lively hum-along-fest of the first half, things take a few turns. “Yours, Tom Mclean” is the most bizarre of them, a sort of a showtune (enter Toby, stage left, trilby cocked, repeatedly tossing a coin, spotlight following him across the stage as he moans tragically at a former bandmate, slagging off Leicester and confessing that he sees his talent as a curse as he goes). “The Flight Paths” is a delicate gentle masterpiece, and is well placed as a kind of mountain peak of simplistic beauty. It is then followed by the title track, which is Stu’s ode to debt. It’s almost a celebration of debt, in fact, building in energy and joyousness, until at the end it’s all singalong and flute like it’s the freakin’ Age Of Aquarius. Got to go and check that out live – clapping my hands in the air for my overdraft.
Anyway, I’ve done some calculations, and it turns out this is 87% perfect, and the rest isn’t far behind. For your own sake, get it.

The album is available now.

Left With Pictures are playing at Eat Your Own Ears at The Lexington with Cass McCombs on November 30th.

Images by Alicia Canter

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