(Make Me a) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 17: Model Village

Model Village

Formed in the summer of 2008, Model Village, from Cambridge, UK, mix jangly guitars, boy-girl harmonies, upbeat melodies and downbeat lyrics, sitting somewhere in the niche between Belle & Sebastian and The Promise Ring (according to their website).
The group has seen a bunch of line-up changes over the years, drawing in people with backgrounds in a whole bunch of different bands, including Econoline, Owl & Mouse, Hey Colossus, Fuzzy Lights, and Reynolds.
They recorded three albums so far, “A Solution To Everything”“You Chose These Woes” and “Healing Centre” and played gigs with The Lemonheads, Allo Darlin’, Jeffrey Lewis, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Wave Pictures, Adam Green, and Slow Club and featured on the main stage at the Indietracks festival.
Their fourth album, “World Of Carp” is out now. And it’s delicious!

What They Say: World Of Carp was pretty much ready to go a little over a year ago, and we were figuring out how and when to put it out, when we were overtaken by events. We decided we couldn’t put it off forever but, unsurprisingly, it’s been a bit tricky putting the record out, particularly as we’re totally DIY.
The members of Model Village haven’t been in the same room for over a year now, and as we don’t even all live in the same county we just haven’t seen each other. There’s no gigs to accompany the record, and even if we weren’t physically repulsed by the idea of livestreamed acoustic bedroom gigs, it wouldn’t be actually possible to do any under the current restrictions. Instead, we have to hopefully pump “content” out into the world, on the chance it leads people to listen to what we’ve been making. With any luck they might at least grudgingly respect it.

Their (Dan) Mixtape: I always loved making mixtapes that don’t necessarily “go” together, rather they paint a broader picture somehow. Hopefully this little selection gives some kind of an indication of my take on where Model Village is at, for the uninitiated.

ABERFELDY – LOVE IS AN ARROW

Aberfeldy were a band who were a massive touchstone for what we wanted to do with Model Village around the time the band formed. Before we started, me, Ian, and Piers saw them at the Green Man Festival in Wales and their mix of great melodies, boy-girl harmonies and jangly, folky arrangements was a reference we kept returning to when putting the band together and writing and arranging our earliest material. Their first album was an all-gold folky pop affair, then their later records were a bit more rocking and straight-up, but with diminishing returns. Some people say much the same about us. This tune is taken from that first record and pretty much a list of very neat metaphors that retains a sincere heart whilst being very lyrically playful. I wish I could write this kind of thing. 

MARKER STARLING – NO MORE PARTYLIGHTS

World Of Carp was recorded in two weekend sessions. Around the time of the second one I was listening to Marker Starling loads. Consequently, when I realised that the studio we were recording in had an electric piano, I was pretty insistent that Kenny play it on a bunch of tunes. This song is some of the smoothest melancholia one could ever encounter. 

STEALING SHEEP – APPARITION

Though the membership of Model Village has always spread across a few different places, our spiritual home remains Cambridge – even though Lily and Piers have never lived here. It’s a surprisingly small place that punches above its weight culturally, particularly when it comes to touring bands coming to play – we get a pretty good number of decent people playing here. But, because it is small, there isn’t a big pool of local support acts. So, we’ve managed to pick up some support slots far better than we deserve, highlights include Half Man Half Biscuit and The Lemonheads. It definitely helps that we are punctual, reliable, and can bring all our own gear. When we were asked to support Stealing Sheep we didn’t know much about them, and were narked when they wouldn’t share their drum kit. But, we were totally blown away by their brilliance, especially the drummer who plays a weird kit that would have been completely impractical to borrow. I’m not much of a music video fan, but even I’m into this (plus it’s a great song).

MINUTEMEN – THIS AIN’T NO PICNIC

Model Village don’t have a set of written rules, but our “business” “practises” and methods of “working” are heavily influenced by the protocols of Pere Ubu and the general wise words of Mike Watt – “we start on time, we stop on time, and we don’t do an encore”, “the record is the flyer for the gig”, etc. This seems to have served as OK as a DIY pop group. There have been no big fallings out about money, we’ve been very reasonable with other bands/promoters/sound engineers/etc we’ve had dealings with (unless they have wronged us – there is a list), and everyone has cleaned up their own literal and figurative mess. We’re not making a living here, so it means we can get to keep everything enjoyable and on our own terms. Whilst we are never going to be as ripping as the Minutemen, We Jam (Premium) Econo.

RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON – WALL OF DEATH

Richard & Linda Thompson were also a key touchstone when we started, which puts real pressure on the guitarists of the band. I sometimes get a bit funny about singing Model Village stuff when solo soundchecking, so this tune is one of my go-to soundcheck songs and I always hope the engineer has some difficulty that takes ages to fix so I can at least make it to the middle 8. Listening to it in 2021 makes me really pine for playing some poorly-attended gig to a moderate reception

VIRGINIA WING – ST FRANCIS FOUNTAIN

I keep dreaming about attending gigs again, and can’t wait to get back to it –  particularly in Cambridge so that I can cycle home at the end. The new album by VIrginia Wing is one of my favourite releases of 2021 so far, and they are booked to play at the Blue Moon in Cambridge, which is a brilliant venue run by lovely people, that has great beer and pizza. The gig is at the beginning of October and I’m currently feeling optimistic that it might actually happen…

Word Of Carpis out now on Towed By The Ghost Records.
Look HERE for more information on Model Village.

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