Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 7 - Otis Gibbs - Mount Renraw

Serendipity has played a large rôle in determining that which appears in these pages and so it is with this artist, whom I knew nothing about until I poked my camera lens over the door of the Saloon Bar at Truck Festival 2014. This is that picture. Why wouldn't one want to be party to a gig like this?

Otis Gibbs, Saloon Bar stage, Truck Festival, 18 July 2014.

It was around  a month before the release of his LP 'Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth'. I was smitten - it was exactly the start of my ongoing infatuation with this most unlikely, yet astonishing, of festival stages.  That album, like the others before it is down-to-earth roots songwriting and performance. It is also far more complicated than it might seem on first listen.
This is the follow-up by the native of Indiana and released into a world now full of uncertainty, which is grist to his mill.

'Mount Renraw' - Otis Gibbs (Wanamaker Recording Company, 13 January 2017).

Otis Gibbs - Mount Renraw:
  • Ed's Blues (Survival)
  • Bison
  • Great American Roadside
  • Sputnik Monroe
  • Empire Hole
  • Blues For Diablo
  • 800 Miles
  • Copper Coloured Fools
  • Kathleen
  • Lucy Parsons
  • Wide Awake
[Post in progress - more to follow very soon.]

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 6 - Scott H. Biram - The Bad Testament

Thus far my series of 'New Music 2017' posts has taken a predominantly acoustic path. This is where it takes a turn towards electric squalls...  well almost certainly it does, for this album has not yet been released. It could turn out to be an album of lullabies and  gentle ballads but neither artist nor label history make that seem anything other than extremely improbable!
The title of the LP tends to reinforce that idea too...

'The Bad Testament' - Scott H. Biram (Bloodshot Records, 24 February 2017).

It seems that the often-solo Texas bluesman will be taking us down the rutted dirt roads, rusting rails and haunted backwaters once again. Should you be wondering what I thought about his 2014 LP 'Nothin' But Blood' than that is here and it was my first introduction to the world of his music.

This is the track list:

Scott H. Biram - The Bad Testament
  • Set Me Free
  • Still Around
  • Red Wine
  • TrainWrecker
  • Long Old Time
  • Swift Driftin'
  • Righteous Ways
  • Crippled & Crazy
  • Feel So Wrong
  • True Religion
If you buy CD or d/l versions then you get the three tracks from his 'Lost on the River EP' too. I have a certain feeling that I will head for this option.

Here is a taster from the new record:

'Long Old Time'

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 5 - Wildwood Kin - The Author

This is the new release from the trio Wildwood Kin based in the south-west of England.  The music strays far beyond that locale and furthermore 'The Author' is a song more contemplative when compared to 'Warrior Daughter' that was released in 2016.

In addition to the release of this new song, and an album to follow soon, the band has just been announced as the recipient of an award to be presented at the UK Americana Awards 2017  that take place at St. John's, Hackney, London on 2 February.
To put that in proper context, Bob Harris has been around the sun a fair few times and in the top echelons of new and independent music discovery for a very long time too: 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' with Bob presenting ended decades ago (it ran thus from 1971-1978). In that sense he has been there since the start of my music experiences. I still remember seeing bits of that as a child. Since then he has become something of a lodestar for those interested in roots and acoustic music beyond simply UK and Irish folk and through most of those decades it wasn't a part of mainstream musical fashion, to say the least. How times have changed!

The Author (Croft Sessions, in collaboration with Sidmouth Fringe).

It would appear that I didn't mention the release of 'Warrior Daughter' at the time, although I certainly intended to do so, so I shall make amends now.

Here is the video for that song too:

Warrior Daughter (official video).

As soon as learn more about the album I'll be reporting back; don't imagine otherwise.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 4 - Emily Mae Winters - Siren Serenade

Looking back on my recent post concerning 'EPs and mini albums of 2016' it has struck me that there are several rather surprising omissions. One of them is the 'Foreign Waters EP' by Emily Mae Winters.

I'm going to get out of this particular problem by subsuming it into the announcement of her début LP 'Siren Serenade'. Produced by Ben Walker, as was the aforementioned EP, but this time also in collaboration with Lauren Deakin-Davis, it will be released in April 2017.

The first track from it, it least as I can find is 'The Star' and a song inspired by John Keats' poem 'Bright Star':

'The Star' (official video)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 3 - Cup O'Joe - Bluebirds

I can't tell you how many bands I have mentioned in recent years that include the participation of siblings but it is considerable. It's a theme of kinds and I see no reason to discontinue it. 
Here is another - three siblings in this case - that were you not to know otherwise might be imagined to hail from the far side of the Atlantic. That isn't the case at all and this is their first EP.

Bluebirds EP - Cup O'Joe (self-released, 2016).

Cup O'Joe is Benjamin (upright bass), Reuben (guitar, mandolin) and Tabitha (banjo, fiddle) Agnew and they actually call Armagh, Northern Ireland's smallest city, home. The EP has six tracks:
  • Bluebirds
  • Pretty Fair Maiden
  • Blackwaterfoot
  • Homesick
  • Tell Me Darling
  • Black Coffee
They play predominantly self-written material that crosses the range from bluegrass and gypsy to old-time, western and jazz and all three contribute vocals. Definitely another band that I want to see live in 2017.
If you have a little while to spare for listening then there is this.

Cup O'Joe, Coastline Bluegrass Festival, Llangollen, North Wales, June 2016.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Music 2017 - Part 2 - Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Navigator

In my opinion there is never a bad time to welcome a new album from Hurray For The Riff Raff but, as it happens, early 2017 seems an especially propitious one for a number of reasons. Alynda Lee Segarra and her band are always ready to take on social, cultural and political challenges in their songs and there is no reason to think that things will change at least in that respect, this time around.

'The Navigator' - Hurray For The Riff Raff (ATO Records, 10 March 2017).

The Navigator - Hurray For The Riff Raff:
  • Entrance
  • Living In The City
  • Hungry Ghost
  • Life to Safe
  • Nothing’s Gonna Change Girl
  • The Navigator
  • Halfway There
  • Rican Beach
  • Fourteen Floors
  • Settle
  • Pa’lante
  • Finale
The lead track is Rican Beach, about which some reviewers have expressed surprise at the direction of the sound. I like it and even if that were not so I wouldn't be overly concerned. I'd actually be rather more worried if it just sounded like an out-take from an earlier LP and to that end I have pre-ordered the album. I have trust in certain artists, festivals and labels. Hurray For The Riff Raff is most definitely one of the former.

Rican Beach

My Music in 2016 - EPs and mini-albums:

In a decade of writing this blog few things have pleased me more than the relentless rise of the EP and the mini-album: the format, from vinyl to digital, doesn't matter a fraction as much as the use it has seen in releasing small bodies of completed work to a wider audience. Not only does it allow the artist, new or established, to provide rapid exposure to new material it is also bite-sized for the diminished attention span of many consumers in the digital age. With that in mind here are just six such that have grabbed my attention in 2016.

All six are female led; four from the UK and one each from Ireland and the US. I have seen all the UK-based ones live at one time or another, but neither Wyvern Lingo (Ireland) or Lily Mae (US).

Janileigh Cohen, Rising stage, Green Man Festival, 21 August 2016.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Music in 2016 - Albums - Part 2

Seconds away; round 2.
The rules are exactly the same as before and in no way should you think that this list is 'second fiddle'. One of the featured acts would soon disabuse you of that notion simply because of its four members three play fiddle, almost always concurrently!
In addition, this list includes an entry for which the primary language is not English.

Anian - 9 Bach
Applewood Road - Applewood Road
The Black Feathers - Soaked To The Bone
Cale Tyson - Careless Soul
Fara - Cross The Line
The Honeycutters - On The Ropes
Joanne Shaw Taylor - Wild
Kelsey Waldon - I've Got A Way
Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
On Dead Waves - On Dead Waves

This post is entirely me fighting my own corner as concerns the kind of music that I like. The links above might have indicated that. It includes one of the two US artists that I most wanted to see live in 2016 and I did so.

Margo Price and Jeremy Ivey, wife & husband, Woods stage, End Of The Road Festival, 2 September 2016.

The other US artist I really wanted to see live in 2016  was Jason Isbell and I did that too, at Green Man Festival 2016. The above list also includes two of the US artists that I would most like to see live at a UK festival in 2017 - The Honeycutters and Kelsey Waldon. It's looking promising.

This is from the Saloon Bar stage at Truck Festival in slightly challenging circumstances.

Applewood Road, a capella. 15 July 2016.

The few invading troublemakers - they were not merely drunk and disorderly - were soon removed without any further fuss by Security. This is the first time in ten years of festival-going that I have ever been in a situation like this and it was reassuring in the way that everyone reacted to it. Such things happen in many towns each weekend, more is the pity. Ten minutes later everything had returned to normal, but with even more camaraderie.
This is the 'Saloon Bar Stage' after all, so perhaps it isn't such a surprise?

Should you wish to attempt to prefigure 2017 then there is this. its title is 'Powerplant'. I'm not saying much about it because crystal-ball-gazing is not my thing and look where professional pollsters led us in 2016! I would be lying if I were to deny that there are a couple of items that are interesting prospects indeed. The second album from this duo is one of them.

Girlpool, Big Top stage, End Of The Road Festival, 5 September 2015.

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Music 2017 - Part 1 - Holly Macve - Golden Eagle

A break from lists and an opportunity to start looking forward to 2017 releases.
I actually started to write this about a fortnight ago when the schedule became clear but I soon ran into a problem. I saw Holly Macve live during the summer but could I find the photos? No!
I knew they were not amongst a few lost to a faulty memory card because the issue was resolved by that time. Just now I had an
 idea - by this time I was using two cameras interchangeably, one much more than the other and it was the first time that I had such luxury. It turned out that these pictures had been taken with 'the other one' and I hadn't looked for them where they were to be found even though I had downloaded all the images from both devices. Mea culpa.
With that little mystery solved here she is. As I said ten years ago, when this blog project commenced, I don't have the time or the inclination to review things that I don't care for. My listening tastes may have changed over time but that is a completely different matter. 

Holly Macve, Garden stage, End Of The Road Festival, 4 September 2016.

Her début album 'Golden Eagle' is released by Bella Union on 3 March 2017 and this is the track-listing.

White Bridge
Corner of My Mind
Heartbreak Blues
All of Its Glory
No One Has the Answers
Golden Eagle
Sycamore Tree

Taken from the album, this is 'No One Has The Answers'.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Music in 2016 - Albums - Part 1

It is time for the first of several lists of my favourite albums of 2016. As ever releases are alphabetical (articles, whether definite or indefinite, are included in the list entry but ignored for alphabetical purposes) by artist within each list and inclusion in a given list implies no preference over ones in a later list.
Artists that I have seen live tend to feature highly in these lists and it is true that this applies just as much in 2016 as in previous years. In order to try to prevent that bias affecting opinion I have decided that this first list will include only artists and acts that (performing as such) I have not seen live this year or previously. The result of doing that has, as it turns out, transformed into something of a 'wants-list' for 2017 festivals!
Be that as it may, and with no way of knowing how it might pan out, here it is:

Billie Marten - Writing of Blues and Yellows
Case/Lang/Veirs - Case/Lang/Veirs
Dori Freeman - Dori Freeman
The Drive-by Truckers - American Band
Elizabeth Cook - Exodus Of Venus
John Moreland - High On Tulsa Heat
Layla McCalla - A day for the hunter, a day for the prey
The Moon and You - A White Light That Shines
On Dead Waves - On Dead Waves
Red Moon Road - Sorrows & Glories

All but two are acts from North America but this isn't actually an accurate reflection of my listening in 2016, be that live or otherwise. I think that my subsequent lists will make that clear. Indeed if you know me then you will likely have already spotted a few very glaring omissions of North American artists that have released LPs in 2016 from from this list. What is certainly true is that it has focused my attention on artists that I would very much like to see live in 2017.

[This is just the bare outline of this post but having started just earlier and on a whim, I decided I wanted to get something published this evening. More details, links (those other than to my own comments) and so on will follow shortly. If you find some music new to you and that you like then I'm a happy bunny!]

Comments are always welcome.
They are moderated only for reasons of law, order and decency.

Friday, December 02, 2016

My Music in 2016 - Live albums

Ten years ago I mused about the resurgence of the EP and have never regretted that comment. Occasionally I have mentioned the interest that I have in live music recorded. I mentioned that my 2016 End-of-Year list would have a new category and this is it. Just two entries in this, at least for now.  I think it interesting not just for their obvious differences but, at least to me, because both are by artists that I have been following from the very first time that I heard about them. It is particularly appropriate because in both cases my first experience of both was actually seeing them play live!

I first came across Northumbrian band Lanterns On The Lake at End Of The Road Festival 2010 and I have seen them play live several times since.

Lanterns On The Lake - Truck Festival 2011.

The music is often almost subconscious in its beauty - bleak yet optimistic. This collaboration is a perfect match and in order to maintain the tension it had to be recorded live. This was the result.

Lanterns On The Lake with The Royal Northern Sinfonia - Live in Concert (Bella Union, 25 November 2016).

This next is a rather different beast. The Black Feathers is a duo comprising husband and wife Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler. I have written about them a few times before now; this was in anticipation of their début studio album Soaked To The Bone.
This next was, by popular request, recorded live at The Convent, South Woodchester, Gloucestershire earlier this year. 

The Black Feathers - Live at The Convent (Bird In The Hand Records, 2 December 2016).

It comprises eleven songs, most of them are original compositions but there are a few covers too. This isn't one of them nor is it actually featured on Live at The Convent! It is a live version of an original song from Soaked To The Bone.

'Down By The River, Under The Apple Tree session, 2016.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Elyse Weinberg - Greasepaint Smile (and recorded music time-travel)

I am often surprised by the time between recording and release of an officially sanctioned album but this really takes some beating: approximately forty-six years! What happened and what do we get?
The album had been recorded and even the album artwork completed; then the label Tetragrammaton Records went bust with the album still unreleased. With no release - I am unable to find a code allocated to the title - the LP was effectively orphaned and then eventually almost forgotten. Tide and time played a part and so eventually this happened.

Elyse Weinberg - Greasepaint Smile (Numerophon, 18 September 2015, LP, CD & d/l).

Greasepaint Face is now widely available and it should have been her second release for Tetragrammaton. This was the first.

Elyse Weinberg - Elyse  (Tetragrammaton T-117, 1968).

This was released to considerable acclaim but is now more tricky to find although re-released by Orange Twin (LP, CD & d/l) in 2005 but is still almost impossible to find in the UK. An original example of T-117 might be my Christmas present to myself. The equivalent in 2015 was at least as improbable!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lists of 2016: It is that time again.

This year I have been listening to more new music than ever and the list business will start at Advent. Maybe I should have made a musical calendar? Thinking about it maybe I will.
I could choose a track for each day regardless of the lists of LPs, EPs and such. It would be a way to shine a spotlight on things that I have caught my attention but that otherwise might not have featured at all. If I do it is going to have to be done on the fly as 1 December is close.

That aside things will proceed much as they did in recent years and the rules will be the same. As I did last year the final list may not appear until early January. This not only combats the tendency of forward-creep but it also allows the possibility of including late releases. The cut-off for my consideration will be Friday 2 December. There will also be a new list category this year.

I imagine that you can guess a number of my favourite albums of 2016 and I'm sure some will appear on many other people's lists. I'd like to think that I will also include some surprises that are worthy of the attention of your ears.

Update: 1 December-
The first list will appear tomorrow evening. It will be the new category and also a very brief list but you might find it interesting nevertheless.
I'm still thinking about the song-a-day Advent calendar. It might start with a introductory group of songs at the weekend. I'll just have to see how much time I can devote to it.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 57 - Frida Hyvönen - Kvinnor och barn

I have posted about my forays into listening to music sung in foreign languages a few times in the past. On the other hand I don't think that Swedish (a language that I don't understand a word of) has ever before been one of them.
Frida Hyvönen the artist I was well aware of through her three English language LPs:

In addition to songwriting and singing her principal instrument is piano and this album is no exception. One thing I have discovered is that its title 'Kvinnor och barn' translates as 'Women and children'.

Frida Hyvönen - Kvinnor och barn (4 November 2016).

 The twelve tracks are as follows:
  • Sjön
  • Imponera på mig
  • Balkongmannen
  • Förlotat dig
  • Alla vet att det är vakert i Paris
  • Vänner i vardagen
  • Kommer du?
  • Drömmer om dig
  • Min stad
  • Kvinnor och barn
  • Fredag morgon
  • Amors förkastliga pilar
I have as yet been unable to divine the label by which it is released (on vinyl, CD and d/l) but it is available to stream on Spotify (here in the UK, at least at the time of writing).
Sometimes not understanding the lyrics allows one to appreciate the melody and structure of the music more easily. This was one of those times for me and I very much enjoyed it. It has also reminded me that I really must revisit all the earlier albums. 'Silence Is Wild' tackles some rather unusual subjects in popular music, if I remember correctly.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 56 - Will Varley - Kingsdown Sundown

In some ways 2016 has been a long and tiresome year. Will Varley has put words to it far better than most could ever have hoped to do. His name might not be on the tip of your tongue but that is no matter.
Kingsdown Sundown is dense, dark and yet ultimately hopeful. It was recorded in the basement of a pub in Deal, on the coast of Kent, but written on tour in only the way that an itinerant artist can; raw and not compromised by home comforts.

Kingsdown Sundown - Will Varley (xtramile Recordings, 4 November 2016)

Taken from it, this is 'To Build A Wall'.