Pleasures of the Crayon Fields

I just read a tweet from the Vaselines where they called Belle & Sebastian pure showbiz.  I think they meant it as a compliment, but I took it as a put down.  I’ve been down on Belle & Sebastian since seeing them on the Dear Catastrophe Waitress tour.  While I liked that record, live they just got a little bit too full of themselves and then the cringingly bad Life Pursuit and its live show demonstrated that the band seemed to be quite content to be mired in MOR quicksand (Word to the wise, don’t torture yourself with their new record, especially the Nora Jones duet). What was great about those early B&S albums was the DIY spirit, the  tension they could conjure and the bare bones approach to orchestral pop.  What’s a guy to do when a favorite band goes astray?  Go find another favorite band of course.  The Crayon Fields are the perfect replacement.  Their latest album All the Pleasures of the World was an unheralded orchestral pop gem. They share the same influences with Belle & Sebastian in  the Go-Betweens, Zombies, Bee Gees and the Left Banke, and they remind me of B&S circa If You’re Feeling Sinister, a little awkward in front of an audience, but able to deliver the goods in an anxious, taught way.  You won’t get a string section at Benaroya Hall, but you will get a feeling of the delicate and the sublime from songs like Disappear and Mirrorball, or an inkling of the exotic from How Loved Are You.

The Crayon Fields are no strangers to these pages, but they are just about to embark on a rare set of US dates which is the impetus of this post.  The band have released an EP in preparation for their US landing over on Bandcamp.  It includes a live version of Graceless, a cover of Roxette‘s It Must Have Been Love and a new song,and  the afore mentioned How Loved Are You.  If that’s not enough new stuff for you, Crayon Fields main dude Geoffrey O’Connor has his second solo album (his first was under the moniker Sly Hats) ready for release.  It will be out soon on Chapter Music, the same label as the Crayon Fields and label has graciously shared up a song to preview its release.

mp3: Crayon Fields – How Love You Are

mp3: Geoffrey O’Connor – Now and Then

Catch the Crayon Fields in the flesh if you live near one of these places:
Oct 11 – Soda Bar – San Diego, CA
Oct 13 – Muddy Waters W/ The Spires and Watercolor Paintings – Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 14 – Rickshaw Stop w/ Magic Bullets  – San Francisco, CA
Oct 16 – Northern w/Karl Blau – Olympia, WA
Oct 17 – Mississippi Studios w/Karl Blau  – Portland, OR
Oct 18 – Tractor Tavern w/Karl Blau  – Seattle, WA
Oct 21 – Glasslands Gallery – (CMJ) – New York, NY
Oct 22 – Rockwood Music Hall (CMJ) – New York, NY
Oct 24 – Black Cat Backstage w/ Family Portrait – Washington, DC
Oct 26 – The Fire w/Air Waves – Philadelphia, PA
Oct 27 – TT The Bears w/Air Waves – Boston, MA
Oct 29 – Hotel Cafe – Los Angeles, CA


  1. Matthew · October 10, 2010

    Totally agree about how shit the latest Belle and Sebastian album is. Drove me nuts, listening to it thinking ‘but these guys are one of my favourite bands, I must like some of this’. No, all shit, it turns out.

    • Toby · October 10, 2010

      I wonder what happened? I know my tastes have changed since If You’re Feeling Sinister, but that record still gives me chills. It’s not that I want them to keep doing the same thing, but they seem to have abandoned guitars for the most part. Nothing against keyboards and synths, but faux soul and fey Eurodisco have never been my thing.

  2. Esther · October 18, 2010

    Hi Toby, ‘How Loved You Are’ is the b-side to the ‘Mirror Ball’ 7″ single. Although for many it may seem new now that it’s accessible as an mp3 thru the EP. Hope you made it to their show tonight! And B&S didn’t completely deliver, but about half of the album’s songs have become favorites. Nice write up.

    • Toby · October 19, 2010

      Didn’t realize it was a b-side. Sounds like an a-side. I missed their gig at the Tractor last night, but not for lack of trying. Kelley Stoltz was playing across town and I thought I could catch him first and then see Crayon Fields at the Tractor since they were headlining. No dice. I got their as everyone was leaving. I did get a chance to say hello to Geoffrey which was cool.

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