Saturday, July 04, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 54 - The Honeycutters - Me Oh My

I'm going to stick with the American theme - it is 4th July after all - and The Honeycutters come from the Appalachian tradition that dates back to the earliest years.


The five-piece is fronted by songwriter, lead vocalist and sometime guitarist Amanda Platt and hails from Asheville, NC. This leads one to suspect a Blue Ridge influence and, to an extent, that is what you get here. One thing you most certainly do not get is manufactured Nashville country - it's homespun but with nice flourishes where they make a real difference. 
I suspect that they are not at all well known in the UK at the moment even though Me Oh My is their third album. On the other hand with the fast changing relationship between the US and UK in terms of folk/roots/Americana the timing is nothing if not propitious.


The Honeycutters - Me Oh My (UK release - April 2015)

It is nothing ground breaking in style but that was not its mission. If it makes your little corner of the world seem a little bit better or even just more understandable, then it has succeeded it the minds of it creators.  If you like it then the 2012 LP 'When Bitter Met Sweet' might be worth a listen too.
It is also worth mentioning that, as someone who regards lyrics as important, I like this for that reason too. I can imagine them sung in a English, Scottish or Welsh accent and (without the pedal steel, possibly) they would seem every bit as plausible.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 53 - Los Colognes - Dos

Given that which I wrote at the end of my last post - so barely an hour ago - I am not actually in favour of conscious selection. I like what I like and catches my attention and the bottom line here is that this was too good not to share. That Los Colognes happens to comprise five guys from Chicago who have since relocated to Nashville just happens to be one of the facts.
Dos is the début album (*when the title makes no sense) from Los Colognes and it is slated for release in early September.

This is the track listing:
  • Baby You Can’t Have Both
  • Backseat Driver
  • Drive Me Mad
  • Take It
  • One Direction
  • Golden Dragon Hut
  • Hard to Remember
  • All That You Know
  • Cherry
  • They Got It On



This is 'Backseat Driver'.

* Or, then again. maybe it is not. These guys are busy...
Working Together (2014)
It has ten tracks on it and these are they:
  • King Size Bed
  • 99 Ways
  • Working Together
  • My Doorway's Open
  • Buyin' time
  • Hi Road
  • Long Time Comin'
  • I Don't Believe
  • Get Down
  • Birds of Paradise
Plenty of influences from times-past in there, and I doubt I have even spotted the half of the most obvious ones yet. Check it out. One for late in the evening at a summer BBQ, I'd wager.

New Music 2015 - Part 52 - Hannah Grace - Meant To Be Kind

Continuing my theme of artists I'm intending to see at forthcoming festivals here is one who plays the new Palm City Stage at Truck Festival 2015
She hails from Bridgend, South Wales, and this is her first EP. 



It was released by Never Fade Records in 2014 and is available to buy digitally (from the usual sources) and on CD and 12" vinyl either from Never Fade or from Rough Trade. The vinyl pressing is quite unusual in that it is single sided.

The background to Never Fade Records is an interesting example in the changing face of music in the digital age. It was founded in 2010 by Gabrielle Aplin and James Barnes so that the former could self-release her first EP (it was followed by two others). In time it has evolved to do the same for a small, but growing, group of other artists now that Aplin's LP releases (of which more in due course) are released by Parlophone, which is now part of major label Warner Music Group. [I have chosen Wikipedia links over those of the respective companies simply for the reason that they are more informative in the historical perspective, whereas the websites of the companies themselves are understandably pre-occupied with the here-and-now.]
'The First Time' - recorded live at The Unitarian Church, Dublin, in 2013 - is one of Hannah's own songs and it bodes very well for her performance at Truck Festival I think. It is not one of the four included on the aforementioned EP. Those songs are:

  • Meant To Be Kind
  • Broke
  • Walk Away (The City)
  • Chasing Butterflies



There are also several interesting cover versions to be found on-line and this - The Staves' 'White Winter Trees' is one of my favourites.
In the light of this recent blog post from Breaking More Waves, and the various sources it mentions even if they do no meet the rigorous guidelines for peer-reviewed sociological research, I shall continue not to worry about mentioning female artists as long as I deem the music worthy of inclusion. I don't think that I'm likely to suffer a crisis of logic any time soon.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 51 - This Is The Kit - Bashed Out

I thought that I had mentioned this release in a post already as I have been listening to it often, but seemingly I did not. Be that as it may, This Is The Kit is very much on my 'to see' list at End of The Road Festival 2015.

'Bashed Out' is the band's first full LP, released by Brassland Records a few months ago.
The title of the album is slightly curious, albeit precise, and that the seventh track on it is 'Nits' only reinforces the feeling that this is indeed something slightly odd. It is also very good indeed.
For those that need to have music categorized, I sometimes find it (un)helpful, this is a big problem. It is not folk, it is not entirely acoustic either and then we find ourselves in the territory of alt-folk/nu-folk/freak folk.

The problem is that, in as far as I can tell, we are no better off than the mediaeval map makers whose works tailed off at the edges of what they understood and when things got really tough included mythical creatures, possibly as a warning to those that might wish to venture from the "known world". That territory is now musically well populated but remains, in designation at least, 'beyond the pale' and that in itself is a very old term indeed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Truck Festival 2015 - Palm City Stage

It is only a few days since I posted the artist list for The Saloon Stage at Truck Festival 2015 and started to comment on it. There is plenty more about that to come, even in the three weeks before the event!
In what has in many ways been a rather dismal week, nothing good in the news, more generally the music side is keeping me sane. I do wonder if, instead of M. Hollande and others amongst 'the great and good', the NSA has taken to snooping on me instead because soft targets are easier to go for after all. Here's how it plays out; the results are impressive [announcements] when it comes to festival line-ups and particularly the ones that I am going to. Please keep up the good work!


Today Truck Festival announced a new stage and one that will make my plans for that festival even more problematic. It is 'The Palm City Stage' and its logo seems to be flamingos and tropical vegetation. It is, despite that and I have no problem there, dedicated to music from Wales and that is a big part of the problem for me. It is no secret that I could spend much of Truck Festival in the Saloon Stage (roots and Americana from both sides of the Atlantic).
It is also no secret that I have long had a soft spot for music from Wales, sung in either Welsh or English, for reasons that I have never really been able to identify, let alone explain.
There will be a lot more from me about this list. 

The first is to mention an astonishing trans-lingual pun. The music can wait, just for once.

If HMS Morris sounds like a rather off-kilter band name, and to be fair it does, then perhaps you should see this from Glastonbury 2015 [strong language warning].

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

End Of The Road Festival is 10 in September.

This is the current line-up (the four music stages only) and the day split-list. Please remember that the acts on different stages are staggered and run for different duration and with different lead times between acts. To put it more simply, acts on the same level in a list but on different stages will not necessarily clash, at least in toto. There will however, unless your desires are few, be myriad clashes. That is as just as it should be.
I know I'm going to have that problem big time. Saturday is quite simply a crisis just waiting to happen.

There are still some tickets left... see you there? I will come back to more specific ideas of that which I want to see later but, as anyone that has met me at a festival will know, I'm very prone to changing my mind and just flying by the seat of my pants once I'm actually there.
We'll see what happens; there are plenty of acts that I need to look into as well as the many that I already know I want to see. When it comes to the secrets and the pop-up acts, well that's another challenge entirely. That said, there are some candidates more likely than others...
Why am I not mentioning any acts or artists here?
It doesn't seem to me to be the place to show any kind of favouritism, or even opinion, of that kind. I'm sure that you can pick my mind by proxy, at least in part, by going back through earlier posts.

EOTR is a couple of months, and three other festivals, away. Maybe I need to put together a Spotify playlist, or two, particular concerning things perhaps less well known.

Monday, June 22, 2015

And now this... Gwenno remixes Stealing Sheep's 'Not Real'

Well. If you don't look then you don't find.  On the other hand sometimes things come to those simply willing to remain aware. This is the Gwenno remix of Stealing Sheep and their song 'Not Real'.



Stealing Sheep played End Of The Road 2014 twice. This is the second time and at about 1:30 on Monday morning.
In 2015 the band plays EOTR again with the new album Not Real (Heavenly Recordings) in tow. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 50 - The Delta Bell

Hot on the heels of my last post - I originally considered merely appending this to it, when I mentioned The Delta Bell.
I realised that this is worth far more than that. The current, limited release, 7" vinyl single 'Wasted' c/w 'The Back Of Your Mind' had already come to my attention. It is quite a long time since I have bought a newly released 7". It was just a case of waiting for one that I really wanted, I suppose. 
'The Back Of Your Mind' does not appear on the forthcoming LP.

The label behind such releases is Random Acts Of Vinyl and this is RAOV013.




It is followed, on 31 July, by her début album 'Bow Out Of The Fading Light'.
Its beautiful pedal steel harmonies not withstanding, this is another astonishing example of where transatlanticism, at least in music, is at.  The Delta Bell is sometimes a solo act and at other times a five-piece with her band. Either way it is Kate Gerrard from Brighton. The album is released by At The Helm Records and this is the track list:
  • Carry Us Home
  • Phosphorus
  • Wasted
  • Of Mist
  • Forever Yours
  • Strings
  • Every Tonight
  • I've Seen The Way
  • Lay Him Down
  • Churches
  • Until The Night
The Delta Bell plays The Great Western Saloon Bar at Truck Festival 2015.

Truck Festival 2015 - The Saloon Bar

I said that I'd be back with this information as soon as I knew what was happening. Here is what I now think that is.

Lots to like here - I'll be starting with Delta Bell and not just because she/they are the first act playing on that stage on Friday;  the very same is already firmly installed on my list of 'ones to see'. I'm delighted to find that she is on the programme.  I shall, therefore continue with my theme of starting with the artists on the small stages and those that open any stage.
Don Gallardo, Porchlight Smoker, Stevie Ray Latham and so much more...
"Start at the beginning, continue to the end, and then stop." maybe. 

New Music 2015 - Part 49 - Will Hoge - Small Town Dreams

It is no secret that I like a great deal of folk, roots and alt/indie-country music that is being produced on both sides of the Atlantic these days. In that vein I shall continue with this, the latest LP from Will Hoge, a native of Franklin, Tennessee and maybe the small town of his musings, at least in part. It was released by independent label Cumberland Recordings (Nashville, TN) - about which I can find little information but would like to if not least to hear more of their artists - on 15 June 2015 (in the UK).

Since then I have listened to it, from start to finish, a number of times and I like it. I like it a lot, to be honest. I am planning to listen to as much folk, roots and Americana as I can over the summer festival season. If Will Hoge turns out to be playing then I'll be there if I possibly can. This comprises eleven songs, none are covers, and I can't say that I have a particular favourite yet and that is no bad thing. I can safely say however that there are none that I would skip. This is the track-list:
  1. Growing Up Around Here
  2. They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
  3. Better Than You
  4. Little Bitty Dreams
  5. Guitar Or A Gun
  6. Middle Of America
  7. All I Want Is Us Tonight
  8. Just Up The Road
  9. Desperate Times
  10. The Last Thing I Needed
  11. Till I Do It Again
This time next week 'The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts 2015' will be heading towards the closing night. As mentioned before I shan't be there but, while looking forward to the coverage and hearing all the tales, it does mark a certain kind of start to the summer. The weather forecast for the next week in these parts looks fairly benign too.
It is also, a tradition on my part, the time that I start to think about my end-of-year lists. My reason for this is that, with half of the year done, it should be possible to determine at least some trends...
Why bother? Well, having thought about it I then have the summer, and the festivals, to see if my ideas hold up and also still the
 time to explore new ones.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An off-the-cuff thought on music and festivals.

I'm not going to Glastonbury. Indeed I never sought to do so. Were I there you would, without any doubt, find me at one of the smaller stages.
As it turns out of the three main stage headline acts, following Dave Grohl's unfortunate and unforeseeable accident just recently resulting in the withdrawal of Foo Fighters and a band that I would very much like to see live, I have seen two of the now Glastonbury 2015 headline acts before and both when playing their first ever significant festival headline set. As for Kanye West, the other headline artist/act, let's just say that I'm not sad about missing that. It's quite simply not my thing.
I seem to have no usable pictures of Florence and The Machine playing Latitude Festival 2010, although I remember that the performance was excellent. As for Arcade Fire, well that was the final impetus that prompted me into festival-going - and that was Latitude Festival 2007. I shall not be at Latitude 2015 either but I'll be out and about at other festivals over the coming summer.

Whatever festivals you may be headed to have a great time and remember the things that become memorable are often the acts on the small stages and including the ones that you have almost no, or indeed any, prior knowledge of. My personal view is that festival line-ups, although usually announced from the head-liners down, are best assessed from the bottom up; that is by examining those artists playing on small stages and also the opening acts on any stage. I don't see any reason to change my view - it is a issue of sustainability - in the light of what I saw and heard last year. Some will cut the grade and others won't - but at the very least you will know it for real.

To reinforce that idea - and just in case you arrive five days early for some reason - check this out. I pretty much guarantee that you won't regret doing so.
The Midnight Novel (2014) is a wonderful LP.

I do hope that the weather is kind, that everyone stays safe and has a wonderful time at any and all festivals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Listen, seek, read and wait - in no particular order

This is something that could never have been planned. Last Thursday it was my birthday and I didn't have much idea of a present that I might buy for myself.  Yesterday, as I was taking a day off work, I walked into town in the summer sunshine with the main reason that I wanted to purchase tickets for King King live in November.
I was in no particular hurry to get home and decided to poke about in the various charity shops on my way back. Just sometimes interesting railway books are to be found languishing on the shelves, but not on this occasion.
It turned out however to be a decision that gave me a birthday present to myself for next to nothing. I have been collecting such things for a while. 
I remember being introduced to the music of Bob Dylan by Radio Caroline in the early 1980s when I was a student at UKC. It may have taken me the better part of thirty years to catch up with this release, the much reviled electric-one, but better late than never.
Then there was a problem - how much would it cost. I didn't want to look too excited or draw attention to the particular one that I had found in a newly-arrived box of fifteen vinyl records.
I enquired and some vacillation followed. In the end I offered £20 for the lot as an opening gambit. It was accepted immediately and I headed home with a box that was heavy to carry even with handles made of parcel tape by the staff in the shop.

It is Columbia CS 9189 - the original US release from August 1965. There have been many other releases of it subsequently, even on vinyl. The first song on it is 'Like A Rolling Stone' and it was recorded for the album on 15 June 1965 (so fifty years to the day). Columbia doubted its viability as a single as it is over six minutes long; it remains Dylan's best selling single.

At the other end of the time scale is this: Flo Morrissey is an artist who, at just twenty, seems to have wandered out of Laurel Canyon without ageing in the intervening decades to release her début album Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful on Glassnote.

Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful is not the perfect album but in a way it would be worrisome if it were. It's title might indeed allude to that. There is far too much pressure on new artists now.


It is however a thing of rare vision. Few realised the importance of Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell at first.
Flo Morrissey played Green Man Festival last year but I didn't see her play. This was a big mistake but then again I can't be in more than one place at a time. She plays End of The Road 2015 and I shall be there watching and listening.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why Sweden really matters...

Sweden won Eurovision Song Contest 2015 - they have Måns Zelmerlöw and 'Heroes' to thank for that and for seeing off the strong competition from Russia;  Polina Gargarina and 'A Million Voices'. Sweden, even more so than the rest of Scandinavia, is astonishingly good at producing writers, artists and producers of pop - and indeed Eurovision success. The UK on the other hand is not, at least in recent Eurovision terms, but is very good indeed at exporting music more generally.
Sweden has given us in recent years the alt-country sounds of First Aid Kit, with which the Söderberg sisters have made themselves a fixture on both sides of the Atlantic.

That their songs sometimes, indeed rather often, have a melancholic bent leads nicely on to this...  If Sweden did snarly, gloomy --- a garage kind of sound --- but still with two female artists at the helm, what might that sound like?
Much like this...
Pale Honey is the work of Tuva Lodmark (vocals and guitar) and Nelly Daltrey (drums) from Göteborg. Their music has divided opinion - some say it is one dimensional - and that is an accusation often aimed at guitar/drum duos. Another is that it is melancholy (see above). Well it often is a bit that way, I suppose, but is that a fault? I'd say not - it has made my day better to be honest - and that is why I'm writing this. I'd wager that, seen live, Pale Honey would be astonishing.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 48 - The Deslondes

Writing a blog is something like handling a heavy train; it is an unending battle between inertia and momentum. I seem to be in the hard-to-stop situation at the moment.

This album was released today by New West Records.
The Deslondes is a New Orleans acoustic five-piece and this is their first LP released as such. It starts with the piano led 'Fought The Blues and Won', which is some claim. On first listen I was much affeared that this was a case of best-foot-first. That was not to prove so.
It has a sense of the timeless about it. That is oft-times a phrase used with a forked-tongue but in this instance even Pitchfork seem to be very much on the positive side.
As for me, well I'm sold on this. This is for summer - if we have one - and despite the fact that East Somerset is notably short of bayous and their accompanying catfish and crawfish I'm always good for any excuse for a BBQ.

This is track #6 'The Real Deal':

It is not in my opinion one of the deal-makers but it shows well both the intent and the acoustic milieu live. The record ends with another slow number led by piano and that is 'Out On The Rise'. It is demurely astonishing.
This is the track list:

  • Fought the Blues and Won
  • Those Were (Could've Been) the Days
  • Heavenly Home
  • Less Honkin' More Tonkin'
  • Low Down Soul
  • The Real Deal
  • Still Someone
  • Time to Believe In
  • Louise
  • Simple and True
  • Same Blood As Mine
  • Out On the Rise
What you may not expect, even after listening to it from start to finish, is that all twelve songs are originals and the band members share writing and singing duties in many and various ways.

Monday, June 08, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 47 - Don Gallardo - Hickory

I can't promise that he is appearing here but unless I'm wrong he will be one of the artists at Truck Festival that I most look forward to seeing live.  This is the follow-up to 2012 LP 'Art of Troublesome Times'.

It was released in the UK by Clubhouse Records today.
It has its roots in Americana and indeed country but it spreads its wings rather more than that simplistic diagnosis might imply. I can see that having listened to it right through several times already, I'll be doing that plenty more over the coming weeks. I can honestly say that there isn't a track that I dislike on this - that there are keyboards and brass on some songs only shows evidence of a deft touch at work and are only there for the benefit that they bring at any particular moment.
As an interesting comparison I have also been listening to another album released today (in the UK by Sub Pop Records) and that is 'Carnation' and the latest release by Daughn Gibson; I have chosen to link the label's artist notes here quite deliberately. I haven't listened to the album or indeed his earlier ones enough as yet to venture more than to say that I rather like that which I have heard. There may well be more from me on this subject before too long.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 46 - Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material

'Pageant Material', which is Kacey Musgraves' second studio album, is to be released on 22 June in the UK by Decca. I read the article about it in the Sunday Times today.

If the falseness of the album artwork annoys you - it is just a cliché - then please read on...

Factually, the article was fine in as far as it went (not very far) but that isn't the problem I have with it. The issue is that the author wasn't even willing to applaud the bravery that major label Mercury, and therefore not something that I might naturally feel inclined to defend, had in releasing 'Same Trailer Different Park' in 2013.
The article acknowledged that it tackled issues that would bother the moral majority: It did that and then some. 'Pageant Material' is no less incendiary in that respect but neither was Loretta Lynn when tackling issues of domestic abuse some decades ago. 


'Biscuits' is the first track released from it.
The other thing that struck me is that the impression given in the article is that Kacey Musgraves is alone in this mission. It is a fact that she isn't. Here are just two others to consider that I was well aware of in 2014:
  • Razor Wire - Hannah Aldridge (2014)
  • American Middle Class - Angaleena Presley (2014)
Whilst not actually courting such controversy with her début solo LP 'Like A Rose', Ashley Monroe was not afraid to tackle a taboo subject on the track 'Two Weeks Late' or a rather different one on 'Weed Instead Of Roses'. Her second LP should be revealed within a few months.
There are plenty of others too. Not least the ones that I am currently unaware of.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 45 - Andrew Combs - All These Dreams


I had intended to mention in my post on Monday that I was planning a week away from posting but I forgot to do so. Maybe that was as well.
This LP has been on my mind for a while now but finally I have given it a really good listen. It is fairly low-key and possibly not the easiest, most accessible to like from the get-go. It may take some time and I guess the album artwork even suggests that.



It is however well worth the effort, at least in my opinion. I was planning to wait until next week to post about it.

Then I discovered this collaboration today whereupon any other option was simply a non-starter.
Andrew Combs plays End Of The Road Festival 2015.