At the very end of 2014, a new EP called Owen Mountain, by a new band called Cup Winners' Cup, appeared on the internet, and I've been listening to it rather a lot since then. Cup Winners' Cup, if you didn't know already, is the latest musical project of Bristol's Bert Clark. The past year or so has been a busy one for Bert, aside from recording a bunch of sad and beautiful acoustic EPs under the name Black Terror, he also co-founded, recorded and went on tour with Hallie and the Annies, and it's been a real pleasure for me to follow his activities, never knowing what he might do next but always confident that, whatever it is, it will be great.
As was the case with Black Terror, Cup Winners' Cup is actually just Bert on his own but this time around he's playing a bunch of instruments, and he's plugged in too, so you could be forgiven for thinking he'd assembled a full band. As such, the overall sound and feel is quite different to his previous releases. Bert has described Cup Winners' Cup as a power pop band, and I think that's as good a description as any. The additional instrumentation on these recordings certainly gives them a little more oomph and immediacy than can be heard on his previous EPs of 2014, and as for the pop bit of that description, well, that's a given with Bert, everything he does is pop to my ears. This is one of the things I've always loved about Bert's songs, the way that they are undoubtedly and unashamedly pop songs, they are catchy and sing-alongy, always full of heart and expression, but never in a way so obvious that they become boring on repeated listens. As much as I’ve loved his output up to now, I think these might just be his best songs yet, and his best sound too.
Owen Mountain is an EP that I would recommend to just about anybody, if you don't know Bert's previous stuff, don't worry, this is a perfect place to begin and work your way back from.
Since the release of the EP, a video has been made for the lead song, At the Top of Owen Mountain, and you can view it below. It is an absolute joy to watch. In it, we see Bert, training in preparation for his climb of the eponymous Owen Mountain, with his Hallie and the Annies bandmate, Ellis Jones, playing the role of his coach.