Little Name
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Little Name


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"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

"...Little Name is basically one guy, Lee Barker who is obviously influenced by Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura as well as a host of cool 60’s band . The record opens with the horn-soaked jangle pop classic “For the Attention Of” and then glides right into the sultry “ I Always See the Sun Rise.” Song four is my favorite on the record, a little ditty about love found and then lost “Tracy & I” ( “… I left her and she left me. We cried about what should have been”).The opening drum roll of “Orienteering” sounded like something off the last Camera Obscura record while those bossa nova horns on “Picked out the Line” added a unique flavor to the record. Not sure if this is Barker’s first record but I sure hope this isn’t his last. One of 2007’s most pleasant surprises." - Dagger Zine

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

"Gentle, mellow, loungey jazzy, brassy, sound with bossa nova Astrud vibes contrast with some wryly melancholy words to takes a us through a portal to the land of old fashioned haircuts and faded formica in cafes which still serve tea from urns, where Martin Parr probably lives. It’s fab, and it’s a little bit sinister, in a supremely groovy sort of a way, that you just can’t get enough of. Lovely!" - The Liverpool Echo

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

Imagine the scenario: Stuart Murdoch circa 2000 enters a small café and orders an Americano. A 1978 Elvis Costello sits in a black suit at a nearby table with legs crossed sipping a cup of hot tea. Murdoch is served his drink and joins Costello. Nearby a Sarah Records rep sits observing the two, who discuss joining forces to release an album in 2007. That album is to be titled How To Swim And Live and the moniker will be Little Name.

It is easy to desire a backing band somewhere between Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura fronted by an early Elvis Costello and now that desire has be fulfilled. How To Swim And Live encompasses this interesting combination from the earliest notes of “For The Attention Of” to the final moments of “You Tear My Love Apart.”

Front-man Lee Barker’s plush vocals and intricate instrumentation blend the light romanticism of indie-pop with the sweetness of twee. What differs between Barker and the typical indie-popster is that Barker is a true master at crafting vocal patters and blending with them beautiful orchestration and a twee-like guitar jangle and drum shuffle.

Dissection of sounds and influences aside, Little Name has created a work of art; beautiful and mystic, How To Swim And Live is a timeless piece with elements from 60s and 70s baroque artists like Burt Bacharach, light pop-rock traits from Elvis Costello and The Smiths, and a dose of modern orchestral indie-pop from Belle & Sebastian.

Though I’ve already given it several spins, each one is as good as the last. On this particular rotation, “Tracy & I” just began. Enough is enough: I’m going to put aside my laptop and enjoy the rest of the album. - Fensepost

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

This record has to go down as the surprise release of the year for us. It must have been a surprise for Ann Tabor of Sleepy Records as well. She received the Little Name "demos" one day out of the blue. This guy, Lee Barker, from Liverpool, is holed up in his house for eight years because of panic attacks and records this marvelous, bubbly British pop record that follows in the footsteps of Belle and Sebastian, British twee, and Gruff Rhys (his voice is often a dead ringer). The guy plays 99.9% of the instruments, the production is impeccable, and he just sends it out to a fledgling label, who was absolutely floored and quite happy to release it. Would that every unsolicited package was like that! Can you imagine getting this brilliant pop album in the mail unannounced? One wonders how many other great songwriters are holed up in their houses making beautiful music like this.
- The Cropper

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

Those blasted RIYL stickers and quick stroke blog posts are tough. Hearing anyone compared to Burt Bacharach or Belle & Sebastian will usually furrow up your brow in passive aggressive dismissal. I'll admit, the Little Name record sat in my "listen to it eventually" pile for a long time.

But after a few listens of How to Swim & Live, I started to embrace the sounds, and it's easy to see why really. There is lots to like about Lee Barker's efforts (he plays almost every instrument on this record). Lyrically, his dark words pleasantly balance the floating textures he uses. He mixes in 60's French pop/British twee sounds and feel but manages to stay away from the "aping" that so often results when you sample from these influences. His songs really sink in quickly, and hearing him croon, "nobody loves you, and it's easy to see why" over top of some picked acoustic notes and strings on Nobody Loves You is somehow so settling.

The record makes use of hand claps, gentle electric notes, drums and horns - oh, and xylophone to create a swirling symphony of lovely. If you have doubts, play For the Attention Of and start enjoying. The record has lots of nice tracks: I Always See The Sun Rise is driven by percussion and a nice guitar solo, and the galloping drums of Orienteering really peaks your energy. Really, if you like any of the artists Little Name is constantly compared to, this record is well worth a listen. - Hero Hill

"Little Name: Music has given me back my life"

ACROSS Merseyside tonight dozens of bands play their gigs, dreaming of a record deal.

Meanwhile Lee Barker, signed to a prestigious American indie label, sits at home in Maghull and dreams of walking down Bold Street.

Fourteen years ago Lee began to suffer from panic attacks. Bit by bit, the talented 24-year-old music graduate withdrew from the world, until the only place he felt safe was his home.

He has been there ever since, but this year, much to his amazement, his songs were picked up by Sleepy Records and now his debut, How To Swim And Live, is getting rave reviews around the world.

“I used to love wandering round the city centre,” explains Lee, 37. “I remember walking down Bold Street, meeting friends, going into Quiggins. I took it all for granted.

“I used to go into the city centre all the time and to me it felt like a magical place bursting with life and creativity if you only knew where to look and the places to go. Now I haven’t been there for more than 10 years. It feels like another world.”

Lee studied music and played in various bands, doing gigs around the city and working in Our Price in Birkenhead. On the train to work one day, his life changed forever.

“When we were under the Mersey we suddenly stopped. The lights went off. I started to feel anxious. I could feel my heart racing. After what felt like forever, it started up again. I looked around and everyone else had carried on reading their newspapers. I tried to put it to the back of my mind.

“Then the next time I got on the train exactly the same thing happened – it stopped, I panicked.

“After that I tried getting a taxi through the tunnel, but it started to happen there, too. My bosses were really good and they let me move to the Liverpool shop, but then even that got too much. I had to give up my job. My world was getting smaller, until I just couldn’t go out.

“From then nothing was level, nothing was simple and all was tainted with its colour. My outlook and all around me became attached to it and all I did from morning til night was aimed at placating the fear and allowing it to sit quietly at the back of my mind.”

But, using his passion for music, Lee began writing songs and teaching himself how to play and record them at home.

“I’ve always been a creative type of person so it was fortunate when I started having panics that I could use that creativity. When I've had a break from writing songs or creating in some way, it’s then that I feel the most lost.”

After painstakingly recording every instrument himself, Lee played some of the songs he’d recorded to a friend.

“My mate said: ‘It’s good that, you want to get yourself a little name; get yourself on the internet’,” laughs Lee. “I don’t think he realised how patronising it sounded, he didn’t mean it like that, but I thought it was funny, so I called the project Little Name.

“All the instruments are me and I had no goals for Little Name other than to put the songs on the internet and see what, if anything at all, happened. I never really thought anyone would listen to them.”

Within days of putting the tracks up on the internet he was inundated with people wanting to know more.

“People started contacting me, saying they’d heard the songs and asking for CDs. I was amazed.”

One of them was Ann Tabor, who runs Sleepy Records.

“She asked me to send over more of what I’d done,” says Lee. “I was flattered that someone was interested in the music I’d been making in my house.”

Ann offered Lee a record deal, distributing his debut album and promoting it across America.

“To find someone who will believe in you to that extent is more than I could have ever imagined,” grins Lee. “She was taking a chance on me, and I can’t explain how grateful I am for that. The funny thing is I’ve never spoken to her, not even on the phone. It’s all been done by email.”

Lee has become something of an expert on the internet. He buys everything online – food, clothes, music.

“When shopping came online it was like I was able to join the world again.”

He even met his girlfriend online.

“We met on a Belle and Sebastian forum,” he blushes. “We were friends online for ages, and then we started talking about meeting.

“I’m so lucky to have people around me who understand, who have supported me. But it’s a hard thing to explain.

“If you’re scared of pigeons you can try to avoid them, you don’t go to Leicester Square. But it’s not the pigeons that you’re really afraid of, it’s the anxiety they bring on. I’m not frightened of going outside, what I panic about is the feeling of anxiety that it will bring. But I can’t figure out how to stop it happening.”

One day Lee hopes to conquer his fears and be free to leave his house.

“I’d love to go into Liverpool, to see the regeneration and the new buildings – I’ve never seen FACT, the new skyline and all the venues and possibilities that are teaming from the streets that used to be so barren,” h - Liverpool Echo

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

The Smiths, Burt Bacharach, The Sundays, Belle and Sebastian... if these names spark up a bit of hunger in your musical taste buds then pause for a moment and check out Little Name from Liverpool (UK). All of the aforementioned artists are listed as influences on the Little Name MySpace page, and all of them come through as obviously influential upon listening to Little Name's music. Here you'll find delicate dream-pop, heavy on the '60s French/Bacharach sound, that's perhaps more closely aligned with St. Etienne and Camera Obscura than with the bands listed above. These are songs that come across as reflections of life on a blissfully brisk sunny autumn day - shot on Super 16 - heavy on the soft focus, halation, and ambiguous plot lines. It's as if this music has always been with me, yet I'm just now hearing it for the first time. Truly, there's something decidedly familiar and welcoming about the songs on Little Name's debut How to Swim and Live.

Nearly as interesting as the music itself is the story behind how these songs ultimately saw the light of day. The story goes something like this: "after 8 years of isolation through panic attacks, Lee Barker (the man behind Little Name) was searching for greater themes, songs that said something and said something about his life." So what does he do? He goes and writes and records the album How to Swim and Live, playing "99.9% of the instruments", and sends it off (completely unsolicited) to Ann Tabor at Sleepy Records. What a pleasantly surprising day that must have been for Ann and Sleepy Records - an entire album full of music just ready for the world to throw its arms around. You've got the same pleasant surprise waiting for you in the two songs posted below. - Ear Farm

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

Music is at the very heart of Liverpool, as shown by The Beatles, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Farm, Ladytron, The Zutons and scads of other Scousers. Little Name's one-and-only member, Lee Barker, has followed these other artists out of Liverpool and into our ears. Lee suffered great panic attacks and for eight long years, lived a life of isolation and How to Swim and Live was born.

From the opening riffs of "For the Attention Of" you instantly realize that Lee is the love child Burt Bacharach and Ferrente & Teicher with some subtly dark lyrics. "I don't really care about you/ I've just got this itch that needs to be scratched/ I don't want a long engagement/ I don't think you're serious enough for me". It's a dreamy pop-lounge melody, with light horns and sweeping tones and these tart lyrics. The track "Tracy & I" has an up-tempo light beat but is about unrequited love and how their relationship could never work out. It's these underlying themes mixed with the lush melodies that make this whole CD worth more than one listen.

Being more lyrically driven, I really love "Picked Out The Line" for the story it tells and the bitter way he puts this out there. "I never meant to so viciously kiss you/ I never meant to be so devastating/ Somehow it's more to do with the secrets you withheld/ Than how much you cared/ Oh, God I know you cared." and "Just waiting/ To be one picked out the line/ Oh how you'd love/ Just waiting/ That it's your name this time." I've always thought that a melody can be gorgeous but if it's not really saying anything, it's instantly forgettable.

"A Life Such as Mine" is a great instrumental track with a few cascading female melodies that has a Cocteau Twins feel to it. It's just the right length to suck you in and not bore you to tears.

The last track -- which sums it all up perfectly -- is the more guitar-driven "You Tear My Love Apart." It sounds less like Burt Bacharach and more like Belle and Sebastian. "I don't know what it is about us/ Why we like to stay in all of the time/ I know that outside sometimes is frightening/ but that's no reason to stay in all of the time." "You tear my love apart. You tear my love apart/ And while I'm recovering from a broken heart/ you never said console yourself in my arms."

Of course as with just about every musician these days, good and bad, you can take a quick listen at Lee's MySpace page:

This CD is a nice little package that so many will embrace and enjoy. It's one that I'm sure I'll be playing for a long time to come. The moods are right, the sound is lush and inviting and he tells a great story; what more is there? - Ink 19

"Little Name- How To Swim And Live"

How to Swim and Live is charming enough in its own right to dissuade anyone from calling it derivative—Little Name, i.e., Lee Barker, doesn't shy away from his range of obvious influences. This debut channels much of the classic British twee of the last couple of decades and the gamut of orchestrated '60s pop, topping it off with a thick cockney accent. Barker keeps his lyrics simple and sweet, touching on love and unhappiness in nearly every song, yet keeps a steady, upbeat pace filled with brass, keys, bells and dual vocals. - Silent Uproar


How To Swim And Live, 2007, Sleepy Records.



Born and raised in Liverpool and carrying on the the
Liverpudlian tradition of great pop music is Little Name, whose first album, "How To Swim And Live" is out now on Sleepy Records. Bringing the lush sounds of Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian, the northern sensibilities of The Smiths, and the pop of Bacharach, you would think that this already internationally recognized artist was a not-so-little band, with multiple members and a full orchestra section. However, the brilliant sounds on this CD are the work of just one man, Lee Barker. Underneath the bright indie pop are lyrics which explore ideas of openness and vulnerability, isolation and joy with a wit and humour belying their meaning. After 8 years of isolation through panic attacks, Lee was searching for greater themes, songs that said something, and said something about his life. "How To Swim And Live" was the answer. Themes of unrequited love, lost lives, anxiety, and finding inclusion in life. These are songs to cherish, songs that let you know that someone out there is feeling and struggling with the same things you are.