Syd Arthur

Can I let you into a secret? Really? OK then. Here goes. Barring the occasional song I've never liked indie-rock.

I know, I know. We're all supposed to love it (hell, I live in Oxford, home of Ride, Supergrass, the Mystics, the Foals, not forgetting the 'head - I used to see that Johnny Greenwood in Londis, don't you know? - and in OX4, indie-rock just oozes up through the pavements.) If the rock press are to be believed, when you reach a certain age all the tribal loyalties of youth drop away, and you're supposed to look back on the history of rock with a wistful sigh, one seamless vinyl progression of sweat and rebellion.

Bollocks. I've never been able to deal with the haircuts and attitude. I like my rock boot-cut and wrapped in an Afghan. If it ain't got moog, mellotron or preferably a VCS3, don't waste my time.

So imagine my delight to discover Syd Arthur (geddit?), four hideously talented twenty somethings, playing the music they love. And that happens to be prog, informed by the psychedelic music that poured out of their home town, Canterbury, in the late sixties and seventies. No hair cuts. No cool. Just exquisite musicianship, played from the heart.

They did a storming set in the Chai Wallahs tent at Sunrise, and have just released an EP, Moving World, which you can buy from their website. You can also hear an interview with them on the ever-excellent Canterbury Soundwaves podcast. I can hear traces of Caravan, Hatfield and the North, Yes and Jethro Tull in their choppy chords and funny time signatures, but the music is all their own, never derivative, and Liam Magill's distinctive vocals give it all a contemporary feel. They're virtuosic, but I was particularly struck by Raven Bush's rock mandolin. Things get wild and hairy when Joel Magill puts his bass through the fuzz box, tripped along by Fred Rother's tight drumming, but really it's all trouser-widening stuff.

They've made prog cool again and I think they're gonna be big. My tip is to catch them soon before they start filling stadiums.


  1. Wow, they ARE cool.... or hot... or both!

  2. Well, you know my feelings about them! You have to admit, there's a bit of funk there too. These guys haven't just listened to their Caravan, but have also absorbed the tight muscularity of rock/funk fusion acts like the Chilli Peppers. But then again, as a Moonflowers fan I've always thought that hippies and funk were made for each other.

    Dave T

  3. oh my, that sounds like one for my partner's record collection. We are going to have to buy a bigger house to give a home to our vinyl, cds and books.

  4. Took me a moment, then 'ahhh, remove the 'h' and say it'! Still slightly worrying that there are two brothers and one of them is named Liam, *chuckle*! I shall pop over and have a listen.

  5. How right you were! And now the world knows.



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