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Introducing The Barnum Meserve


Anyone who has gone to shows at the network of small, sub-300 capacity venues dotted across the country on a regular basis is likely to have collected a list of bands who – were there any justice in the world – should have been much more popular than they ever were in reality.

Riding high on my personal list is a Nottingham quartet that were active in the mid-noughties called Splint. They were first brought to my attention because they featured earthtone9 drummer Simon Hutchby in their ranks, but retained a place in my affections because of their atmospheric-yet-muscular songwriting, and tracks from their A Placid Reminder EP still work their way into my playlists to this day.

Splint’s vocalist, Leon Wiley, possesses a most powerful and captivating voice.  So, following their demise, I was delighted to hear that Leon and ex-bandmate Dylan Griffiths had regrouped as The Barnum Meserve.

TBM are a slightly more unusual proposition, as Leon now plays piano, accompanied by Dylan on bass and Paul Moss Pearce on drums. That’s right, kids; no guitar player.  Naturally, this means that TBM are not heavy in any traditional sense of the word, but ‘not heavy’ shouldn’t be read as ‘not intense’.

Helping to reclaim the word from its now much-maligned three letter contraction, TBM pack a powerfully emotional punch. Leon’s phenomenally soulful voice soars over his plaintive piano lines, propelled by the rhythm section. The sound is often fleshed out further by lush yet sympathetic string-led orchestral arrangements.

There’s absolutely nothing ‘metal’ about TBM, but there’s plenty going on in their songs to appeal to fans of the gentler end of the prog spectrum, like Enochian Theory, A Perfect Circle, Muse, or the quieter bands in the shelsmusic roster, for example.

As it stands, the band have a five track EP available for the cost of an email address. The band have also made a video for the exceptional “Broken Window“, showcasing the best the band have to offer, with a towering chorus that will be stuck in your head for days.  Check it out:

If you like that, the accompanying EP can be bought here.

On top of this, the band have their debut album in the can, and they are currently exploring options for its release. They have very kindly let me have a listen to it, and it is really very good indeed.

In particular, tracks like “Half Mast” and “Don’t Be Afraid” show that the band are refining their balance of fragility and bombast, and it is sure to turn heads when it finally sees the light of day.  The band have developed an almost cinematic sound that welcomes in the listener and treats them to some breathtakingly beautiful moments.

I honestly can’t recall the last time I heard such an accomplished and mature collection of songs from an unsigned band. If there is any justice in the world, they won’t be unsigned for much longer.

The band play most regularly around the Nottingham area, with sporadic forays further afield. They will be playing in London on 26th September at AAA@Archangel and I will definitely be there to see it. It’s been a long time coming.

If you value solid musicianship and top-quality song-writing, you really should check them out too.  Hit up their Facebook, check out their website and download the EP. You won’t be disappointed.

Or, simply watch this space, because when this debut album becomes available for public consumption, I’m not going to be able to shut up about it.

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