Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 16 - Bryde - Like An Island

I had wanted to see Paper Aeroplanes live for some time but before I had the chance that project had ended. Thereafter Sarah Howells and her guitar started a new venture, Bryde (with occasional help from others). I wasn't aware of the connection until, at Green Man Festival 2016, our paths crossed.

Bryde, Rising stage, Green Man Festival, 20 August 2016.

A pair of EPs, both showcasing this from-the-heart brand of songwriting, followed. It is more direct than her work with Paper Aeroplanes but certainly none the worse for that. The recently released LP takes it to another dimension; raw, uncompromising and yet both compelling and relatable.

Bryde - Like An Island (self-released, 13 April 2018).

It is right up there with the best releases of 2018 that I have had the pleasure to hear and of those there is no shortage. I can't wait to see Bryde live once again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why festivals matter - a photo gallery.

I have been thinking about 2018 festivals of late and that has, in part, been responsible for reminding me about all the artists that I saw in 2017 that, at least in some cases, I have never mentioned before. This is a case of 'Live With No Comment'. I have added the act/artist and the stage to each photo but that is as much as you get.  
All of them were taken by me at End Of The Road Festival 2017 and I own the copyright in these pictures. Feel free to share away but please give credit to the artists. These pictures are in no particular order, by date or any other criterion. I flicked through the photos I took in an haphazard way and simply chose the ones I wanted as and when I found them.

Even more importantly please listen to artists, buy their music, go and see them live.

Julia Jacklin, Garden stage, 3 September.

Goat Girl, Big Top stage, 1 September.

Lisa O'Neill, Tipi stage, 1 September.

Shovels & Rope, Woods stage, 1 September 2017.

Tasseomancy, Tipi stage, 2 September.

Jens Lekman, Garden stage, 1 September.

Girl Ray, Tipi stage, 3 September.

Monday, April 02, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 15 - Beelzebub Jones - A Good Day To Be A Bad Guy

Not many artists choose midnight at the end of Easter Sunday to drop a new release. I guess if they do then there are not that many people just waiting to discover it and listen there and then. As it happens I was and not because I had any prior knowledge. I'd been out doing something completely different and got home in no mood to turn in. I needed some wind-down time first and needless to say this immediately caught my attention. Some things are just meant to happen and this collaboration between Andrew McClatchie (Half Deaf Clatch) and Richard Wall is, to paraphrase their own description, dirty cinematographic Americana.
It is the soundtrack to a spaghetti Western that you have never seen simply because it doesn't actually exist. You can therefore imagine the plot to suit yourself. The cover art might look rather daunting but do you judge everything by its cover? Music is as much about your imagination as it is about the people who make it.

Beelzebub Jones - A Good Day To Be A Bad Guy (Speak Up Recordings, 2 April 2018).

It is based on a short story by Richard Wall and that accompanies the limited edition of the physical release (CD, 100 copies) as part of the 26-page A5 booklet. Here's the play list to contemplate:
Nicotine, Liquor & Blasphemy
Whiskey For Breakfast
Dry, Dry Bones
Rattlesnake Interlude
The Heist
Death Of The Teller 
Never Take Me Alive
Sinners Last Request
The Crossing Place 
Working For The Devil
Revenge Is My Only Friend 

I can only presume that title 'Beelzebub Jones' is taken from a comic strip, with a Wild Western theme, that ran in the Daily Mail from December 1938 - December 1945. If that is true then it is quite something, if not it is an astonishing coincidence. The clapperboard is all yours.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 14 - Darrin Bradbury - Elmwood Park: A Slightly Melodic Songbook

I didn't find this. Someone, that I have never met and quite possibly never will, just saw fit to recommended it to me. That this is how it works is amazing in itself.  I struggle to find many male artists that I really like listening to when compared to female ones. That is just the way it works for me. This is one of those exceptions.
The music here is awesome. I'm quite wary of musical monikers such as 'outlaw country' but be-that-as-it-may this is pretty close to what I imagine it might involve should it indeed exist. It is cynical to a fault, but given a perspective that suggests both a longing-for and respect-of the faults that it reveals. That includes a dose of self-deprecation.
In that sense it makes me think of when I discovered the 2016 album 'Rockingham' by BJ Barham.

Elmwood Park: A Slightly Melodic Audiobook - Darrin Bradbury (Café Rooster Records, 2016).

If I could find it on vinyl at a half-sensible price then I would have already ordered it. I can't. At least (here in the UK) you can enjoy it on Spotify here.

Elmwood Park: A Slightly Melodic Audiobook - Darrin Bradbury:
  • True Love
  • Life Is Hard
  • Joey
  • The Almost Great Lakes
  • The Roadkill Song
  • Junkie Love
  • Swordfish
  • Elmwood Park
  • I Knew Him as Sam
  • The Blue Highway

I have listened to it three times right through this evening and that was certainly not part of my game plan three hours ago. On the other hand nothing even half as interesting as this actually was.  It is actually a 2016 release but I had never heard about the artist, let alone the record. Its time is now.

This is 'True Love'.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 13 - Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance

Once upon a time almost all artists that I saw at festivals were totally new to me live, if not entirely new to me. Eleven years later and, while I'm still first in line to see new acts live, the situation has changed somewhat. I tend to have a much better knowledge and perspective on what I wish to see, be that new to me or not.
I also have the great pleasure of having seen artists live over multiple years and often at several different festivals. That has turned out to be a pleasure that I had never really anticipated. This post is about one such.

Ryley Walker, Garden stage, End Of The Road Festival, 1 September 2017.

I first saw him play live when he was touring the album 'Primrose Green' in 2015; before that I had not really come across his music and if I had certainly not paid much attention to it. Seeing him live made me take notice.
I saw him play live again this last summer and then he introduced some new songs that have gone on to become part of his forthcoming release 'Deafman Glance', the track-listing of which is as follows:

Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance:
  • In Castle Dome
  • 22 Days
  • Accommodations
  • Can't Ask Why
  • Opposite Mind
  • Telluride Speed
  • Expired
  • Rocks on Rainbow
  • Spoil with the Rest

Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance (Dead Oceans, 18 May 2018).

The lead release take from it is the track 'Telluride Speed' and this is the official audio of it.

It is also available to stream on Spotify here.

It is also a good example of a phenomenon that I have mentioned previously; that of labels that I am confident will release material that in all probability I'm going to like. In this case that label is Dead Oceans, which is based in Bloomington, IN.
I have just been looking at its current roster of artists and, as well as quite a few that I have already seen live, there are many more whose music, recorded or live, I now feel that I should listen to as a matter of some urgency.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 12 - The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment

As I have started listening to bands on the increasing wave of acts that I do not know much about and announced for festivals that I am attending in 2018, of which more later, it has caused me to reflect on some that I became acquainted with last summer. One thing that comes to mind here is that, despite all claims to the contrary, indie guitar rock is not dead and neither does it consist only of bands that made their reputations "back in the day", whenever that was.
There seem to be plenty of young bands willing and able to seek out nooks and crannies of the genre that they feel deserving of some attention.  This is the début LP from one of them that I saw at Green Man Festival 2017.

The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment (Heavenly Recordings, 16 February 2018).

A three-piece from Halifax, Yorkshire the band consists of sisters Esmé D Hand-Halford (lead vocals, bass), Sidonie B Hand-Halford (percussion) and Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals) and on one level the songs are mirrored by the album artwork: fascinating but difficult to define exactly what it is or what it means. The band cites cinema, and Tarantino in particular, as an influence and that might have a bearing on all this.
What I will say is that although I am no aficionado of cinema I find this album fascinating. Not only do I like it but it works for me either as something to concentrate on to the exclusion of almost everything else but it also works as background music too. Indeed I have been doing both while thinking about, composing and then writing this post. I wonder if the band had and eye on and ear to the possibility that their music might attract cinematic attention. It would certainly be a good commercial move if it were to come off.

Their set at Green Man Festival 2017 was unenviable in one way - the band opened the lovely Walled Garden stage at mid-day Saturday. Opening a stage is never easy after the night before, even if that only applies to the audience, and inevitable nerves. The band showed no sign of the latter and the audience was significant and appreciative; however I found the atmosphere harder to catch on camera!

The Orielles - Walled Garden stage, Green Man Festival, 19 August 2017.

I won't single-out any tracks from the LP but I will mention their first single, which is not on the album, because the eight-minutes-plus of 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt' had already done more than enough to pique my interest and ensure that I was going to be there to discover more. The fact that it was released on Heavenly Recordings helped too; I have rediscovered the concept of "trusted" labels and this is one of them.

Here it is:

The Orielles are confirmed to play End Of The Road Festival 2018.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Seafaring tales... and two contrasting albums.

Wildwood Jack - Liberty Ship (self-released, 1 March 2018)

The first, and the most recently released, deserves my attention. It is a work of entirely original songwriting and the theme is nautical to a fault. It is in great part the work of a duo based in Kent, UK; Jayne Freeman (vocals, ukulele) and Adam Piggott (acoustic guitar) but of course there is judicious use of additional artists when greater depth or diversity is required. Liam Genocky plays percussion throughout.
The songs on it are as follows:

Widwood Jack - Liberty Ship:
  • An Ordinary Day
  • The Captain and Me
  • The Lost Gypsy
  • Morning Star
  • Just a Dreamer
  • Man Overboard
  • By the Light of This Lantern
  • Unsinkable Sam
  • Liberty Ship
  • Bluegrass Boy
  • Montgomery Canal
It is nevertheless a fairly stripped back affair and that works very well here in my opinion. It is solid throughout but one of the highlights is the story of a ship's cat 'Unsinkable Sam'; in fact one cat, capital ships sunk by both sides, in a war and the survivor of three sinkings.
The last track is a trip far from the storm-tossed briny waters. It has reminded me that, now that I think about it, I can't recall many songs about canals and other inland waterways. This is one that comes to mind because I mentioned it last year.

The second LP in this post is quite a different affair. For a start all the songs are traditional or, if not exactly however that may be defined, are certainly not original to the band. Many of them may be familiar to you from bands such as The Dubliners as well as many more.  Some of it is bawdy. A particular mention here must go to the song 'Blow The Man Down' which is explicitly about the dangers to a feckless man of attempting to take advantage of a Plymouth girl!

Admirals Hard - Upon A Painted Ocean (Genepool Records/Believers Roast BR018, 22 July 2016).

Admirals Hard - Upon A Painted Ocean
  • Boney Was a Warrior
  • Spanish Ladies
  • Hullabaloo Belay
  • South Australia
  • Blow the Man Down
  • The Broadside Man
  • The Eddystone Light
  • The Random Jig / I'll Get Wedded in My Auld Claes
  • Whip Jamboree / Let the Bulgine Run
  • Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her
  • Rounding the Horn
  • All for Me Grog
  • Martin Said to His Man
This is an almost acoustic seven-piece band but is actually a side project of musicians,  from Devon and Cornwall, that mostly ply their daily trade in the left-field electronic music scene of London. It is what happened when they decided to get together and do something completely different with their many and varied talents. There are certainly some progressive flourishes herein but then folk music was never intended to be set in stone.
I wouldn't wish to venture my favourites here, because they keep changing, except to say that Whip Jamboree/Let the Bulgine Run will always be on it. This may be because, unlike most of the other songs and tunes here, they were totally new to me when I first heard them on this recording. I must seek other versions of them but I have not got around to so doing yet.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 11 - Midnight Skyracer - Fire

Even in this somewhat enlightened age all-female professional bluegrass bands are something of a rarity.
In so as far as I am aware the very first was New York based five-piece 'Buffalo Gals'. In 1974 it released an album 'First Born(e)' - the actual spelling depends on whether you are looking at the front or reverse of the album sleeve(!) - on Revonah Records as 12" vinyl RS-913 and that I have. It cost more to transport and import than its purchase price but I knew that would be the case. It was well worth it.

Fast-forward forty-four years and become acquainted with Midnight Skyracer. Five young women none of whom call the USA home; four are from England and the other from Ireland. Bluegrass has blossomed far and wide these last few years.

Charlotte Carrivick - guitars

Eleanor Wilkie - upright bass
Laura Carrivick - fiddle
Leanne Thorose - mandolin
Tabitha Agnew - banjo

All of them contribute vocals on the album.

Midnight Skyracer - Fire (SKY001, 2 February 2018).

Midnight Skyracer - Fire:
  • Fuel to My Fire
  • Susan Anna Gal
  • Working Girl Blues
  • Virginia Rose
  • So Long, Goodbye, We're Through
  • They Want to Go
  • Spinous Shark
  • A Little Luck
  • Sitting Alone in the Moonlight
  • High and Dry
The covers are handled beautifully; Hazel Dickens' composition Working Girl Blues being a splendid case in point, but the original songs and their tunes certainly live up to the company in which they find themselves.

To give you an idea of what to expect should you see them live here is a song that isn't actually on the album at all. 

It is a cover of 'I'm Just Here to Ride The Train' by Mountain Heart from that band's 2006 album 'Wide Open'.

Other acts that feature these artists (an incomplete list):
Cardboard Fox
Carrivick Sisters
Cup O'Joe

Kieran Towers and Charlotte Carrivick

Just today, this:

The song 'Virgina Rose' is a co-write by Tabitha Agnew and Laura Carrivick.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 10 - Mike Ross - Jenny's Place

More new music and another release by Brighton's At The Helm Records. Let me see what I can tell you about why I like this after a few days and several listens.

Mike Ross - Jenny's Place (At The Helm Records, 2 March 2018).

Mike Ross - Jenny's Place:
  • Bamboozled
  • The Big Picture
  • Dakota Red
  • Coffeecan Telephone
  • Baby I Love You
  • Jenny (Sun Goes Down)
  • Dark Powder
  • Loveslide
If you can accept that his influences are eclectic then you are quite likely to be fine with this. If not then it might be a rather bumpy ride.
If I had to chose a favourite, and as you may have noticed I most often eschew doing this, it would go to 'Dark Powder' and it is quite something. This album, or at least some of it, goes back a bit further.

Mike Ross - Dark Powder (2016).

This harks back to his childhood spent in the north-east of England during the death throes of the coal mining industry there. It is a narrative that is familiar in many parts of the world and in many different ways. This album flits across borders, even continents, as readily as it does musical influences. 
This is the point at which this album starts to make complete sense to me. 
This could be Pennsylvania or West Virginia were it not for the proximity of the sea as a waste disposal unit. To make a record that can merge all these influence and still sound like a coherent whole is quite some feat.

Records such as this make interminable January more bearable and I can't wait for the opportunity to hear how this plays out live. I fully intend to do that and, what is more, I believe that Mike Ross plays Truck Festival 2018.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 9 - Lindi Ortega - Liberty

Another day, another post. A forthcoming new album from an artist right near the top of those I wish to see live, in this case never having done so before. If I do I'll be one of those people pretending that I don't really know the lyrics that well.
This will be her fifth full-length studio release and the first since 'Faded Gloryville' in 2015. The track-list below is that which I believe to be correct.

Liberty - Lindi Ortega (Soundly Music, 30 March 2018).

Lindi Ortega - Liberty:

  • Through the Dust (Part I)
  • Afraid of the Dark
  • You Ain’t Foolin Me
  • Til My Dyin Day
  • Nothing's Impossible
  • Through the Dust (Part II)
  • The Comeback Kid
  • Darkness Be Gone
  • Forever Blue
  • In the Clear
  • Pablo
  • Lovers In Love
  • Through The Dust (Part III)
  • Liberty
  • Gracias a La Vida
The first release from 'Liberty' is 'The Comeback Kid' and here it is:

I do wonder if the title has something to do with an apparent change of label, at least in part.  Her very recognisable vocal style is still front and centre and on this LP her backing band is Nashville-based instrumental duo Steelism and their side-men.  The producer is Skylar Wilson.

I contend that this in no way a case of doing things by halves. Dare I mention that this is, after a fashion, a concept album?
That is why 'Through the Dust' appears in three parts.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The rogue's gallery - and thinking about 2018 festivals

I had so much fun putting the first of these together that I was looking for any excuse to do something similar. A cold, wet day spent doing household chores and backing up the computer prompted me to look at more of the pictures of music that I have taken over the last decade or so. In turn this has inclined me to think about some festival plans for 2018.

There is no obvious place to start this but it has reminded me of several artists that I have seen live but not thought about more recently.

Cate Le Bon, Garden stage, End Of The Road 2014.

There is no obvious end to this either. Festivals became something I was curious about.  Therefore I had to go and see why there was so much fuss made about them. That finally happened in July 2007 with a trip to Latitude.
Photography was something that came with that because it seemed a convenient way to remind me what I had seen live. It was thus but it only partly served to overcome my lack of note-taking and the fact that the great majority of acts that I saw were ones that I had never even heard-of, let alone heard live or otherwise at the start of the respective set. Rather importantly I had a great time that weekend despite more than a few misgivings about the venture of solo festival attendance the nearer I got to actually having to deal with it.

In time it, both festivals and photography, turned out to be a greater deal than that. It is certain that the Garden stage at End Of The Road Festival is extremely influential in this.
The same stage three years later...

Julia Jacklin returned. She had played the Tipi stage at End Of The Road 2016. 3 September 2017.

What was this all about?  There's nothing like a band going off on a whim. Particularly if the result is leaving your drummer lost, head-in-hands. It's even better when it unfolds in front of you.

Hinds, Far Out stage, Green Man Festival, 18 August 2017.

Welcome to live music. This is why it is so much fun. Sometimes I scare myself, if only retrospectively. I made a complete dog's breakfast of taking pictures of Holly Macve when she played the Sunday opening slot on The Garden stage at End Of The Road 2016. I got another chance... and possibly I did a little better this time.

Holly Macve - Mountain stage, Green Man Festival, 20 August 2017.

I'm sure that there will be some more trips back down memory lane as I consider festival options for 2018.

New Music 2018 - Part 8 - Ruby Boots - Don't Talk About It

At the weekend I was delighted to discover the impending release of the second LP by Ruby Boots, the performance name of Australian-raised singer-songwriter Bex Chilcott.  It is the follow-up to her 2015 album 'Solitude'. With out further ado this is it.
I can't fault the label with which she has now joined forces.

Don't Talk About It - Ruby Boots (Bloodshot Records, 9 February 2018).

Ruby Boots - Don't Talk About It:
  • It's So Cruel
  • Believe in Heaven
  • Don't Talk About It
  • Easy Way Out
  • Break My Heart Twice
  • I'll Make It Through
  • Somebody Else
  • I Am a Woman
  • Infatuation
  • Don't Give a Damn
The lead single is the title track:

She has moved to the US now, Nashville and that is hardly surprising. This album was recorded there for the most part. Her backing band is 'The Texas Gentleman'. There is absolutely no shame in that.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 7 - Cat Clyde - Ivory Castanets

This is another release from 2017 that has just appeared on my radar and it is the debut full-length from Cat Clyde who hails from Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

Ivory Castanets - Cat Clyde (RED distribution, 5 May 2017).

Cat Clyde - Ivory Castanets:
  • Sheets Of Green
  • The Meadow
  • Running Water
  • Like A Wave
  • Heavy Weight
  • Mama Said
  • The Man I Loved Blues
  • Move Along
  • Walkin' Down The Road
  • Chimes In The Night
I have listened to the album end-to-end three times this evening.  This is fairly unusual behaviour even by my own standards.  It is certainly somewhat old-time but that's not really the issue here because the combination of voice, guitar (sometimes slide-acoustic) and keyboards is sublime. The production is not lo-fi but neither is it polished to a point that it might impact on the experience.
I'm not going to select a track from the album just now. Instead, and because I suggest that it indicates her desire to push on, this is a track that has been released since then.

The River - Cat Clyde (November 2017).

 What we need now is to see her touring over here in the UK.

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 6 - Orphan Colours - All On Red

I can't quite believe that this is my sixth post of 2018 but while I am in the mood for posting I guess I should just go with it. More forthcoming new music but this time from an all male band based in England. It has to be said that this is still mining the rich seam that is UK Americana.
As a phrase it might appear an oxymoron but those inclined to solipsism please take note; it is flourishing in a time when the UK might have been perceived to be turning in on itself and back to its perceived core values.  If this is the kind of work that is the result then it is just another case of clouds and silver linings.

All On Red - Orphan Colours (At The Helm Records, 26 January 2018).

The genesis of Orphan Colours came out of the accidental wreckage of two bands, ahab and Noah and The Whale, that were forsaken by their respective labels as commercial priorities changed. That is where the independent side of UK Americana plays a vital part. It is a community in the true sense of the word and that shaped this, the band's first LP, as I'm thinking as I listen to it again. All eleven songs on it.

Orphan Colours - All On Red:

  • Start of Something
  • High Hopes
  • Goodnight California
  • Loving Kind
  • Waiting
  • Lonely Lately
  • Sun Is Rising
  • Renegade
  • Sarah
  • Inside Out
  • Rambling Rose
The first thing that strikes me is this isn't a UK band aping Americana (from America, obvs.) and that is why the whole thing works quite as it does. It is the concept of Americana filtered through the unique perspective of the UK in recent years.
It comes as no surprise to me at all that At The Helm is releasing this record. I'm pondering a post about how labels that can be trusted to release interesting and often challenging new music have slowly risen again.

Here's a little live goodness:

The title of the record 'All On Red' is apparently a reference to table gambling and the putting of all available resources on a single outcome. It is apropos the situation in which the founders of Orphan Colours found themselves after their previous bands folded.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Music 2018 - Part 5 - Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain

Early last year when I first got to hear Courtney Marie Andrews' latest LP 'Honest Life' I knew that not only was it destined to be on my list of albums of 2017 (which it is, here) I realised that I needed to see her play live too. I did that and so here she is.

Garden stage, End Of The Road Festival, Dorset, UK. 2 September 2017.

During the set she introduced several new songs and hinted that another LP might not be too far away. It was so, as confirmed today. This is it.

May Your Kindness Remain - Courtney Marie Andrews (Mama Bird Recording Co., 23 March 2018).

Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain:
  • May Your Kindness Remain
  • Lift The Lonely From My Heart
  • Rough Around The Edges
  • Border
  • Took You Up
  • This House
  • Kindness Of Strangers
  • I've Hurt Worse
  • Long Road Back To You
The lead single from it is also the the title track.

Added 25 January 2018:
Courtney Marie Andrews is confirmed to be playing Green Man Festival 2018.