It’s not often that a musician doesn’t want to be identified as the author of their work but when it does, you only hope the music speaks for itself, and loudly.  Luckily, in the case of The Electric Flea Show’s Art Club of Paintings, the music does indeed speak loudly for itself.  Hailing from Leeds, the enigma and one man band behind Electric Flea Show has produced a collection of songs connected by beautifully played Beatles influenced music with a hint of experimental thrown in.  

The album kicks off, appropriately enough, with ‘Connected‘, a song that leads from the front, showing us what the whole is all about.  The influence of the Beatles is there from the start, with acoustic guitars and a lo-fi sound.  The lyrics are deceptive; somehow making no sense and perfect sense at once.  This continues into ‘Distance’ and ‘Elements‘, the latter bringing love to the fore, singing about “and is love as solid as the soul” whilst rendering a list of elements and the amazing things they make in our world.

By the time ‘Other Than That‘ comes along, you realise that this album is connected by love – the joy, the pain, the loss, everything.  The more tracks are played, the more the lo-fi acoustic sound gives way to experimental sounds with more than a hint of psychedelia coming into play, enhancing the slide into the increasing melancholia of both melody and lyrics.  ‘Remember‘, ‘Hold On (Make the Weather)‘ and ‘I Wish You Well’ speak to the heartbreak that love can bring, together with impending loss and care for those who have trouble coping with life. “Hold on for us, it will get better.  You will make the weather and you won’t break our hearts” are some of the most emotionally charged lyrics I’ve heard in a while.

This is an album that needs to be played a few times to get the full meaning, and even then, I suspect it will be one of those albums that brings something new with each fresh listen years from now.

For a self proclaimed anonymous musician, the Electric Flea Show has plenty of advice for aspiring musicians:

Try to work out whether you want to make money from music or to do exactly what you want to do. You might just be able to do both but probably not. Be critical of your own stuff – decide why / if you really need that 24-bar intro or how entertaining it actually was to hear the bass player say ‘yeah, I think that was OK’ at the end of the recording, or why you needed all 14 verses. Play your recordings in front of others. If there are boring bits or bits that you’ve not got right you’ll feel the embarrassment or their attention wandering. If you feel it too they’re right. But they may also be wrong! 

Understand that being successful is partly the content of the music and partly all the other stuff. You can decide what the mix is between the sound and the look / lifestyle package. It probably won’t work pretending to be partying all night in Hollywood when you’re from Scunthorpe. On the other hand there’s something in the ‘fake it until you make it’ thing. Work out your level of ambition. Do the other people in your band (if you’re in a band!) feel the same? It’s not going to work if it’s your top priority and their 10th. Try to work out if you’re a follower or a leader (and it’s OK to be a bit of both!) – If you’re 100% sure you’re right you’ll have to convince other people and keep them on board – but be ready if it turns out your keyboard player is actually the talented one! Balance being on your own doing music and with going out and doing stuff. It really helps if you turn up to things and people start to know who you are – that gig will be offered unexpectedly, that strange woman who was with the promoter could be your new manager.

Don’t underestimate the work that you’ll need to put in. You can pretty much guarantee that your favourite / the most talented act you can name put the hours in. They got up and turned up and learned stuff…You can only do what you can do but you can do a lot of it. Do it now and not after that next episode or game or whatever – you’ll be old before you know it so do it now!

The world is not fair and there is no justice – try not to waste your time being jealous of people getting things you think you deserve more.

Try to enjoy it – one final piece of advice – NO-ONE REALLY ACTUALLY KNOWS ANYTHING – “Groups of guitars are on the way out Mr Epstein” (famously said to the Beatles manager just before they became the biggest band in the world.

The Art Club of Paintings was released on March 21 on FR Records. Get your copy here.

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