Shoes and Socks Off
From The Muddy Banks of Melitzer
This is probably the rawest album I’ve included in this list. It was self recorded by Shoes and Socks Off, otherwise known as Tobias Hayes (former frontman of Meet Me In St. Louis) in his bedroom above a motorcycle shop and was available on a super limited CD with hand made packaging, which is lovely. I first discovered Shoes and Socks Off when supporting Kevin Devine at the rather wonderful The Deaf Institute in Manchester, where I was told by John Bills (http://penguinorchestra.wordpress.com) about how amazing this guy is. My God how right he was. We spent the majority of Kevin Devines set outside smoking talking about it, as well as getting nostalgic about amazing British bands which have now gone, as well as how great Tool are.
Anyway, back to the album. As I’ve said, this album is the rawest on the list, and it is pretty much just Toby Hayes and his acoustic guitar in his purest form. The closest you can get to his live show. This is also his debut album, and shows maturity beyond his years. His voice was made for this bluesy acoustic music. Opening with Hang In There Buddy, it is a pretty basic yet beautiful song which Hayes’ voice is central to. I’m A World Class Assassin is one of, if not the stand out track on the album. A quicker tempo than the opener, Hayes sounds like he is in a rush to get everything he wants to say. Yeah But slows the tempo back down to a similar one to the opener. Funny Haha is as impassionate as ever, if not more so. Towards the end of the song, you can hear the desperation in Hayes voice.
The album is full of high points, and every song has it’s own personal greatness. The is not a single bad song on this album. Vice Magazine Has A Lot To Answer For hits so many of the right notes, as does Epic Sweet Proportions.
This album was the first in a project that Hayes decided to do with Shoes and Socks Off, which was as strip down and make an album raw as the songs could possibly be to be released first, which is this album, and he released Hand Reared Suburban Piglet, which is the same songs, but with a full band / instrumentation. I love both albums, though this one just has the perfect imperfections which makes music great.Download: I’m A World Class Assasin, Vice Magazine Has A Lot To Answer For.