In which I attempt to explain that which I cannot understand…
I can’t not see a band with a name like that, can I? Here, I’ll try to do some Criticism:
Let us first discuss what “common” means. Here, I would put Mumford & Sons in the “common” category. By which I mean, people commonly quite like them. And here Amanda et al certainly have an edge. Although to be fair, my not having heard of them is not an indication that anyone else has or not. I’d actually not heard of one of the headliners of this festival!
So I suppose The Ears (as I hope they’ll forgive me for referring to them) seem to be winning here. They have (relative) anonymity on their side. But, on the other hand, Mumford & Sons are sort of aping another sound (twatty folk) and Amanda’s merry band are certainly aping something. I’m going to find it hard to pin down exactly what sound they’re going for though. But by gum, I’ll give it a go!
The saxophone sounds a bit later than the double bass (I think), which is decidedly 1920s ragtime (or not?). Amanda herself (assuming she’s the singer, which, of course, could be wrong) plays the guitar in a sort of swing style (possibly).
Harmonising vocals could be from any era. But as anachronistic as they may for-all-I-know be, I don’t think anyone could criticise the harmonies here. The person doing them (the harmonies) is a content-looking double bassist. She looks happy. As do all The Ears. Which is nice.
I honestly don’t know what I’m listening to, but I know I like it. I feel lulled. I feel like I can’t help tapping my feet. I feel like I might be in a film set in some part of American history I don’t understand.
In conclusion then, I would judge Amanda Brown & the Common Ears to be uncommon. Uncommonly good. Like Mr. Kipling’s cakes (which are not officially endorsed by this blog!).
I hope that’s what they were going for.
A version of this review first appeared at fringereview.co.uk