Truffle Shuffle #1: Message To Bears

Despite that fact that we would absolutely love this feature to be getting members of local bands to stand up in a crowded room, lift up their shirts and jiggle around until we say stop, the unfortunate, and debateably less artistic, truth is that Truffle Shuffle is a series of interviews with Oxford’s finest where we sit them down, crack out the iPod (or alternative brand mp3 player for the cheapskates and free-thinkers amongst us) and hit “SHUFFLE ALL”! We then discuss the first 6 tracks to appear on the shuffle playlist, investigating their importance (or maybe insignificance) to the person in question. First up is Message To Bears front-man Jerome Alexander.

1. The Joy Formidable – ‘Buoy’

“I haven’t really listened to this album at all! I think I saw a video of them playing live and I thought they were incredible, so I checked out their recorded material and it was still good but it wasn’t as impressive. I can’t really remember how this song goes, so…sorry about that. A shaky start if there ever was one.”

2. A Winged Victory For The Sullen – ‘Minuet for a Cheap Piano’

“This is a project between Dustin O’Halloran and Stars of the Lid member Adam Wiltzie on Erased Tapes; beautiful album, I think everyone loved it this year. I only got this recently as I’m going to see them live, so I haven’t truly absorbed it but what I have heard so far is really stunning, very beautiful. It’s perfect for Erased Tapes really, who are one of my favourite labels, they currently represent Ólafur Arnalds, Codes In The Clouds, Peter Broderick has had releases on there too. I do feel quite connected to the label, I did a remix for Codes In The Clouds, recorded string parts for their album and I played my first gig with them.”

3. The National – ‘Santa Clara’

“Definitely one of my favourite bands and this song is lush. On the Virginia EP, which everybody should own, it’s classic The National. I remember I was in the car with potentially my first Oxford band, which unfortunately didn’t work out, and ‘Fake Empire’ was playing and I immediately had to find out who this band were. I haven’t seen them live yet, but if I did, I think I would melt. They have attained some well deserved success these past few years, they have always had a really loyal fanbase, but they were never mainstream, but the last album has given them a great push. I have to say the production on High Violet isn’t as good as their other albums, but there’s some great songs on there. I think they’ll be one of those bands who I love everything that they release. Maybe that’s a bit irrational or bias, but that’s just how I feel.”

4. Jacaszek – ‘Lament’

“My dad bought this for me recently, so I haven’t rally given it much attention just yet, brand new on my iPod. What I have heard has been very nice; quite experimental with classical tendencies, nice electronics and samples, it’s quite dark and mournful as well. It’s a really introverted listen, perfect for headphones. It might send you a little bit mental, I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet. My dad isn’t a usual source of new music for me, what he does pass onto me is quite old, and I struggle to connect with music of a bygone era which is quite bad I guess. He did introduce me to Nick Cave though who is awesome.”

5. Mineral – ‘Take The Picture Now’

“This is a band from the early 90s and, even though I hate the term, they are generally considered as early emo. They were really raw before it got all…shit. I was listening to some of this earlier and I don’t really like it that much anymore. I think they’re on my iPod as a source of nostalgia. I think if I were to hear it for the first time now, I’d probably think it’s awful, but it’s cool for a 15 year old angsty me.”

6. Mogwai – ‘Xmas Steps’

“Well, where to begin. This band have really shown me how much emotion can be in instrumental music. The good thing about Mogwai is that they’re not arty-farty about it, they’re just a few lads from Glasgow who are into football, wear tracksuits and have ridiculous song titles, but their music is so moving. They are such a huge influence on the music of Message To Bears, in terms of building up layers and sounds and this is one of my all time favourites.”

Message To Bears have just released their third release and second album Folding Leaves, via Dead Pilot Records. You can purchase it here on Bandcamp