When Quiet Was The New Loud by Tom Clayton

4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Like everyone I like to think that I have some eclectic and fine tastes in music. However, judging at the looks on my children’s faces, sometimes they scandalously do not consider what I think is the best song that I have so far ever heard as worthy of troubling their ears. Mind you I think similar things about the music that they are playing…

That sums up just how personal musical taste is. A bit like reading really. I wouldn’t say I have a broad musical taste, rather it is pretty niche in particular genres but it does vary from folk to dubstep with some unusual avenues along that route. One of the things that I have never really been into was the phenomena of the late 1990s, Britpop. I quite liked the song, Wonderwall, but a lot of the other bands that existed then never really crossed my musical radar.

As the millennium came and went, and thankfully no one suffers from the bug, the music that took over didn’t crash to shore, rather it rose steadily and quietly like the tide coming in on a calm day. The New Acoustic Movement had arrived without a fuss. Not really considered cool, a lot of people thought that it had been unfairly overlooked, but sales of records proved that a lot of people liked the music that these bands were making. I must admit that a lot of this music escaped me, which has a certain irony, as at the time I was working for a hi-fi company designing multiroom systems and speaker cables and we played a lot of music for research purposes. Instead, at the time I was discovering lots of other bands and music styles that a friend was introducing to me.

One person who was into all these bands was Tom Clayton and one of the things that he felt was that thy were not getting the attention and recognition that he felt they deserved. Neither could he find much written about them, so he decided to write the book himself. His friends couldn’t believe that he wanted to write about these bands. This music had been around in his formative years, he loved them and he was sure that his friends did too, even though they were reluctant to admit it.

In five chapters he will take us through his key records of this era, He begins with Travis and The Man Who. There is a little history behind each band, who there were, where they cam from and a critique of each of the songs he has chosen.

I must admit that this type of music is not really my sort of thing, so much so that I had barely heard of some of the bands, such as Kings of Convenience, Badly Drawn Boy and Turin Brake he writes about. I had heard of Travis and we actually have Dido and Coldplay albums in the house. I couldn’t remember knowingly heard the music either, I. think at the time I was on a journey of discovery into Chicane and Afro Celt Sound Systems.

That said I really enjoyed the book. Clayton has a way with words that makes this book worthwhile reading. These are his favourite pieces of music so the way that he writes about them is warm and generous. There are personal anecdotes all the way through, these are the music that defined his formative years after all. The most amusing of which is where he gets to meet Guy Garvey while on holiday in Cornwall. Even though I haven’t heard many of these, I have been listening to the tracks with an open mind whilst writing this review. Thankfully, Tom has produced a playlist here on Spotify of his favourite tracks.


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  1. Liz Dexter

    I love Guy Garvey! But I have an unusual reason for that: as a transcriber, I love people who talk slowly and clearly in complete sentences when being interviewed and he does just that! I know some of those bands so it sounds interesting to me. Though I was also into some odder stuff around then.

    • Paul

      I had never heard of him until I read this! I have listened to Dido again and she has such a lush voice. One of the oddest bands that I like is the Penguin Cafe Orchestra which almost nobody has heard of

      • Liz Dexter

        Oh I have. But then I’m a transcriber for music writers so I’ve heard of far more obscure things that!

        • Paul

          I can imagine!

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