Rough Trade may have put a freeze on their in-store gigs due to the fallout from a few thousand Radiohead fans trying to squeeze into their shop, but London is still well served with intimate store performances from the finest up and coming bands. Chief among those still serving up free delights are the small but perfectly formed Puregroove Records in Archway (Website / Blog / PuregrooveTV).

A few days after Supergrass packed the store, the merchandise table was moved to the side once again to make room for School of Language, the solo project from Field Music’s David Brewis. Described by Frank Sidebottom as “very very catchy – and who am I to argue with Frank – Brewis has created that rarest of beasts, the side project that outshines the “main” band.

The first of the four “Rockist” parts that define the album begins with Brewis strikingly looping up vowel sounds “Oh Ah Ee Oh“. Over this he adds guitar and the first of many examples of his gift for fine melodies “What’s that, You said?“. Some may find the repeated “Oh Ah Ee” grating especially as on record part 2 immediately follows deconstructing and distorting the phrase, but I wouldn’t be one of them. Indeed as Brewis perched on his stool in front of me delivering a guitar/vocal only “Rockist (Part 1)” (Youtube below) the urge to add my own Oh Ah Ee’s was almost unbearable!

Taking gulps from his mug of tea between tracks Brewis demonstrated the quality of the song writing more than holds up to a striped back solo performance. His melodies are often compared to XTC but for School Of Languages debut is most comparable to McCartney I. Freed from the constraints of a group Brewis is more experimental without ever losing his inherent song craft.

The McCartney/Wings sound is most evident on highlights “This Is No Fun“, “Keep Your Water” and bonus track “No Control” which has an absolute killer drum guitar riff which probably deserves a slightly better song.

Glancing across at the discount seven pounds CD shelf Brewis comments on the lack of Roxy Music on display before covering Ferry’s “If There Is Something” (apparently available as is annoyingly becoming common, exclusively on itunes).

bookNot content with simply providing a free gig, during the after show signing Brewis threw in a bit of literary advice too.

Scrawling “Read “The Underground City” by ML Humes” on my freshly purchased CD he went on to explain that his girlfriend had given him a rare copy of the book, and it also featured on the album cover. Fortunately its just been reprinted in paperback so if any ones interested head as they say to “all good bookstores“.

Rockist (Part 1)” featured in my top 150 of 07, and despite not being initially that impressed by “Sea From Shore” its an album that rewards repeated listening. The melodies, hooks, and subtle experimentation do their work and before you realise it you’ve got another favourite CD.

SCHOOL OF LANGUAGE

Myspace / Official site

Listen:

School Of Language – Rockist (Part 1)” (MP3)

School Of Language – Aposopesis Remix” (MP3)

Field Music – If Only The Moon Were Up” (MP3)

Buy:

School Of Language – Sea From Shore” (Signed copies from Puregroove) or direct from Memphis Industries

The Underground City” – M.L. Humes (Paperback)

Look:

School Of Language Live on Channel M (YouTube)

Barney Brittan had some very expensive looking kit, but good god the results are well worth it! – Flickr Set of Puregroove gig

My Flickr pics but seriously just check the ones above.