Wednesday, July 25, 2012


By my reckoning this is only the third release from Grubby Mitts, the five-piece Bedfordshire band led by Andy Holden, in a lengthy existence short on physical product. This is mainly because Holden is first and foremost a visual artist and Grubby Mitts concentrate on live performance rather than releases however sporadic. Hence the lead song on this single (7" vinyl + digital release) has "been ten years in the making" - and their live set closer for most of that time. Holden's art career includes a solo exhibition at Tate Britain amongst many others so letting the music play second fiddle is understandable. But when the music comes, as with last year's 'The Way To A Friend's House', it is attention-grabbingly brilliant.

Gentle plucked guitar and glockenspiel sleepily but steadily usher in the five minute song with a folky enchantment. At 51 seconds, tense, pacy drum loops come in at a BPM that sounds dangerously out of kilter with the rest of the song. On first listen even with the "country-drum-and-bass" tag as a tip-off it is a jolt. By your fourth listen, it is unthinkable the song could exist without it. At 2.20 it all drops away to an infectious wordless refrain ("yadda da, dum-dum dum" is the best I can do it justice) before the instrumentation returns, swelling with clarinet, drums and fuzzy electric guitar and the voices similarly grow in volume and number to an epic, celebratory conclusion. And at this point the title is clear: 'standard' as in hymn or anthem. And if 'Friend's House was a "battle-hymn of honest friendship", 'Standard' sounds like one about joyous unity, about standing shoulder to shoulder with comrades, happily facing down fate and adversity.

The cover may be disappointly plain from an established visual artist but as with earlier instances of my relationship with Grubby Mitts its the music that counts. The band may have a lax even lethargic release rate but possess an astonishingly high quality control. One of my favourite musical moments of 2012 so far; and far apart from that other definition of 'standard'.

Standard by The Grubby Mitts by LostToysRecords

Grubby Mitts Standard [BUY]

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