This UK indie rock band was formed in Birmingham in 2004 by multi-instrumentalists Lawrence Becko (b. 1982, London, England) and Tom Rogers, with the duo taking their unusual moniker from the nickname of a childhood friend of Rogers. Olly Forrester (drums), Jasmin Hollingum (b. 1984, Bath Spa, Somerset, England; synthesizer, violin, French horn) and Alex Housden (b. 1981, Lancaster, Lancashire, England; cello, piano) completed the original line-up. Becko and Rogers set about creating their brand of lo-fi, folk-influenced indie rock. Much of their music is inspired by synesthesia, a rare neurological phenomenon Becko claims to have, by which he sees chords and lyrics as colours. The quartet signed to indie label Static Caravan Records and released a limited EP, Treeology, in February 2006, followed by the equally limited edition, ‘Penguins’, later that year. By the time the single was released, the line-up had altered with the departure of Rogers and Forrester and the recruitment of Aidan Murphy (b. 1982, Birmingham, West Midlands, England; guitar, harmonica) and James Dey (drums). Although publicity remained minimal, critics were heavily praising Shady Bard, and they began to receive some radio airplay in the UK. From The Ground Up was released in May 2007 and was met with wide acclaim, with comparisons being made to Sparklehorse, the Flaming Lips and Spiritualized. The album demonstrated a considerable depth, with its multi-layering and extensive range of unusual instruments, and ranged from the quiet and hypnotic opener, ‘Fires’, to the orchestral and dramatic ‘Treeology’.
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