Release date: 11/08/10 Link: Website If you've paid much attention to the popular media of late you'd have heard that Mumford and Sons, or maybe Laura Marling has revived folk, a long dead and disused genre; made relevant something which had been dormant since Dylan went electric back in ‘65. This is patently false, and over the last decade the UK, and London in particular has seen a number of great folk artists and indeed folk movements (nu-folk and antifolk perhaps being the most prominent). Adem, recently of Silver Columns fame, Emmy the Great, The Bobby McGee’s, and many others have been hammering away making beautiful, often slightly twee, alt folk and it is from this, apparently secret, folk pedigree that The Sound of the Ladies' debut album, We went to the bottom of the ocean, originates. The Sound of the Ladies is in fact one man - Martin Austwick, a bearded singer-songwriter, quantum physicist and pretty much the perfect man to bring home to your mother. When he's not making music, he's either producing the award winning Answer me This! podcast, curating the Sound of the Ladies Lounge gigs (held in his lounge), or working on his day job as a post-doctoral research fellow at UCL. With so much on his plate, it's little surprise that there is no time for collaboration, indeed Austwick plays everything that you'll hear on this album; jangly guitars, drums, and both lead and backing vocals. It all feels a little raw, and like many other antifolk artists, somewhat imperfect. However, this lack of polish is not really a negative, and the quirks seem to work together with an end result that is almost quaint and quite lovely. Whatever flaws there are here, Austwick's guitar playing is not one of them, and while simple, the slow pacing of 'Straight, Boy', or the distorted riffs of 'What We Did With Our Lives' provide just enough of an accompaniment to the delightfully wry lyrics: “I should have gone to Cambridge and been recruited as a spy”, “They gave me a tiny submarine; With a plough on the front – it looked just like Thunderbird 4; Only not as good”. It's not Coleridge, but there are intriguing narratives, woven almost without one noticing. The only problem is that while wry is funny, it's difficult to emotionally engage with something quite as aloof as this feels, and folk is a genre usually at its best while pulling one kind of heart string or another. We went to the bottom of the ocean will be released in physical form on the 11th of August, but is currently available from thesoundoftheladies.com for a small donation, or even free if you want (shame on you). It's a charming album, and at worst it's worth a good listen; at best you'll be counting the days, hoping to get your hands on a super limited, hand printed, hardcopy. I'm doing the latter. Photobucket