(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #296: Tom the Lion

By on Friday, 21st February 2014 at 1:00 pm

Note: Tom the Lion informed us on Twitter this week that he’s not 100% confirmed to appear at SXSW 2014. Keep an eye on the official SXSW schedule for further updates.

Tom Visser, performing under the moniker Tom the Lion, is splashing back onto the scene after a 3-year absence. Debut album ‘Sleep’ is poised to give this Londoner a career jolt. Blending low-fi, chamber pop and modified symphonics, ‘Sleep’ is a mysterious, masterful work. Previous release ‘The Adventures of Tom the Lion’ brought him under the radar commercial success even though it was an amalgam of live performance and limited edition vinyl-only EPs. Despite the difficulty in finding his music – currently available only via Rough Trade or his Web site, it is worth the hunt (hint: try Soundcloud). Both works hold gems that identify this singer as an endearing entry into the male singer/songwriter milieu.

The title track on ‘Sleep’ possesses Bon Iver-esque vocals, but Visser has much more power in his voice than Mr. Vernon typically displays. The majority of the tracks have much more weight, with lyrics that get to the guts of the matter and an interesting quality to his voice that makes you want to hear what he has to say. The comparison to Villagers is also warranted with the punctuated delivery of ‘Oilman’, another tune on ‘Sleep’.

The definitive musical Renaissance man, Visser plays every instrument, every sound on his albums, proving to be the ultimate musician’s musician. I am very curious as to how this plays out live. Does he pre-record parts, vastly simplify his sound or bring additional musicians with him? The texture of what he produces is so finely wrought, that despite my preference against it, I would like to see him pre-record parts to retain their original flavour. Visser’s style wanders over several genres, weaving stories of love and distance using everything from simple folk to crashing electronics. His ability to weave a story into a beautiful sonic landscape is a strong point he capitalizes on with deep folds and nuances to both the soundscape and the words.

Tom the Lion’s debut album ‘Sleep’ is out now on Rough Trade. It’s sure to make a splash, as he certainly will do once he gets to Austin to showcase his talents at SXSW 2014.


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[…] Cheryl’s full Bands to Watch feature on Tom the Lion can be found here. […]

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