The Travelling Band
Pitched somewhere between the heartfelt U.K. Americana of London's Grand Drive and the dry, sardonic take on the genre of St. Albans' the Broken Family Band, Manchester's the Travelling Band formed in 2006 and made a minor ripple two years later with their debut album, Under the Pavement. A democratic approach to songwriting -- similar to that of their predecessors Teenage Fanclub -- ensured that the individual craftsmanship of multi-instrumentalists Adam P. Gorman, Jo Dudderidge, and Stephen Ballinger was clearly represented on the New York-recorded release.
Gorman, Ballinger, and bassist Chris Spencer had originally bonded as part of psych-rock act Brothers with Different Mothers, while the keyboard-focused Steve "Mugger" Mullen and drummer Nick Vaal played together earlier in the decade as part of Wilco soundalikes the Vox. The sextet's carefully honed mixture of folk, country, and understated psychedelia came as a result of their involvement in earlier acts, but was also inspired by the encouragement of close friend and ex-Alfie frontman Lee Gorton.
Although the tracking for Under the Pavement was completed in October 2007, the album didn't appear for another 12 months and was finally issued on their own Sideways Saloon imprint -- also the moniker of their Manchester-based, monthly club night. A couple of hand-crafted, cloth-packaged EPs helped to create a local buzz in the run up to the album's release, while acclaim came from further afield when the band won 2008's Glastonbury New Talent award. Stand-out tracks from the long-player included Ballinger's sublime "Angel of the Morning" and Gorman's melancholic but uplifting "Lanes of Names."
2009 recording sessions on the Isle of Mull produced a suitably folksy, banjo-fuelled rendition of "Waterfall" -- an indie standard originally recorded by fellow Mancunians the Stone Roses. Shrewdly, the track was released digitally on the same August day that the 20th Anniversary edition of the Roses' debut hit the shops, and as a result the track enjoyed modest radio airplay. ~ James Matthew Wilkinson
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