This is that long-promised virtual road-trip.
In the light of recent developments, social, political and criminal and on both sides of the Atlantic it isn't a planned journey, made through choice. It is more a consideration of emigration, immigration or simply migration. The driving forces that control these movements are not always the same. War, poverty and such are drivers of emigration. Then there is the voluntary kind: The fabled pot of gold (sometimes literally, as in the various gold-rushes) can lead folk to leave modest, yet fairly safe, circumstances for much more dangerously insecure ones and sometimes within the same country. Then there is the more subtle matter of identity, belief and belonging.
The really odd thing about the way certain countries are behaving just now is that they are precisely the same ones that, throughout their histories, have benefited the most from these processes.
I'm going to try and write "live-in-process" over the next 24 hours. The reason for that is that this way I hope that I won't overthink it and will actually get it finished. The down-side might be that it doesn't flow smoothly from start to end. Most real migration journeys don't either.
It is appropriate to start with the artist whose album gives this post its title. It is taken from a proverb in her native Haiti - a country that has had, since time immemorial, the worst of luck on almost any humanitarian measure. She now lives in New Orleans.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
This is that long-promised virtual road-trip.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Once upon a time I used to find "new music" by listening to that which some suits in label A&R and in radio deemed was "good" and should therefore be play-listed. I'm not singling out any genre of music here - all of them were guilty in their own particular ways.
In recent times I have become far more proactive when it comes to new music - both recorded and live at festivals. It is very true that I have a certain independent streak when it comes to music and tend towards missionary zeal when it comes to seeing support artists and those playing the smallest stages at a festival. I'd like to believe, however, that I'm not someone that disowns acts that become successful but readers really need to be the true judge of that!
There is nothing more rewarding than when new music comes calling. I suppose that is because I do have an ego and it engenders a warm feeling. On the other hand the guiding principle of 'Thoughts on music' is that I don't waste my limited resources on writing about things that I don't like.
The Moon and You is, at its core, the duo of Melissa Hyman and Ryan Furstenberg that hails from Asheville, NC. They share vocal duties. Melissa plays cello, Ryan guitar, except when they decide to play ukulele and banjo instead and oft-times they are joined by various co-conspirators on the eleven tracks that comprise their début album.
The Moon and You - A White Light That Sings
- Clever Worms
- Dress of Your Own
- Micro-chip Electrode Brain
- Somebody Else
- Bottom of the Road
- Lion and the Rabbit
- Autumn Days
- Currituck County Moon
- Austen's Lullaby
I don't often mention individual tracks but I'm feeling rather tempted to do just that on this occasion. Genre-defying is what I read, before listening to the work in question. I like that idea...
[post in progress - to be continued very soon]
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
OK. Here I go again - there's no rest for the wicked!
Or, for that matter, the followers of those independent record labels that really matter so much once again. Here is the latest from just one such, and the welcome return of a very significant artist with her third (or fourth, maybe) LP.
- Same to You
- More Than Ever
- Out On Love
- Midwestern Guys
Monday, June 13, 2016
This is the promised sequel to my earlier post concerning the Great Western Saloon Bar stage at Truck Festival 2016. It took a bit longer to do than I had planned but ain't that just the way... I intend to mention, if only with links, all the acts that I did not mention in the previous post. It's increasingly looking as though that ambition will require more than this post to achieve!
This looks like a particularly interesting prospect: The Lavens is a five-piece from St. Antonio, Texas and is a band that consists of members of the same extended family. It is certainly not very widely known in the UK:
Brighton-based The Raving Beauties does exist, it is signed to At The Helm Records, but started life as a wholly fictional band; the only reason that it exists is the result of the vivid imagination of a writer. Having published the story to some acclaim it seemed a logical step to create the act retrospectively, and so it happened.
The link below starts with the author explaining the reason for the origin of the written work of fiction:
The final result was this recorded work of eleven songs packed into just 30 minutes of playing time. The reviews are solid too:
Now we shall get to see it played live.
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Let's just get straight to the point here. This is what this post is about.
- Dyin’ To Know
- Ready To Roll
- Get You Back
- No Reason To Stay
- Wild Is The Wind
- Wanna Be My Lover
- I’m In Chains
- I Wish I Could Wish You Back
- My Heart’s Got A Mind Of Its Own
- Nothin’ To Lose
If you don't believe me then see this piece:
Any which way Joanne Shaw Taylor is a phenomenal live artist and she is touring widely in support of 'Wild'. That is something you need to experience.
Monday, June 06, 2016
Before I continue with my thoughts concerning the Saloon Bar stage at Truck Festival 2016 I have decided to mention an artist that is not playing there or indeed anywhere else in the UK in so far as I can currently discover.
This was prompted when today Kelsey Waldon announced a few details of her second album. I decided that, since I had not specifically mentioned the first, it was high time to look at both. This is the forthcoming one:
The previous one is this:
The first track from 'I've Got A Way' is 'All By Myself' and here it is:
Saturday, June 04, 2016
Another attempt to write a post about a road-trip through music has just been cunningly subverted, this time by a festival announcement. As for the title, it's just a case of me with apologies to Joni.
For all that I shall start with the artists and the LP that I was intending to start with anyway.
This album has been out in the US for a while now but is released in the UK very shortly and there is a tour in the offing too. It should be clear that we are on a trip and that we are starting in California. Or at least this outfit is.
In fact this trip through music is defined only by the end-point of the various journeys and that is a single small stage - The Great Western Saloon Bar - at the above mentioned gathering. The starting points vary wildly and indeed some of the artists have already been mentioned in these pages. Here is the full schedule.
What interests me now is all the rest of the artists on the above list; many of which I know little or nothing about. There is no point whatsoever in going to festivals just to see acts that one is already well aware of.
What I dig up about this will form the second part of this post.
Thursday, June 02, 2016
It really started just fifteen minutes walk from home with live music at the Grain Bar Roots Sessions in my home town of Frome, played by an acoustic trio from down the road in Devon. This is folk (of the English variety) but not quite just that. Amongst the summer rain, so typical of England, touches of blues and even jazz seep in through the cracks whilst the stories told are relevant to those in almost any place or time. That trio is Velvet & Stone and they were touring their six-song début release.
The next is certainly the result of a improbable set of coincidences. It all started with a local (but not particularly so to me) community radio show called FNARW (Folk is Not A Rude Word) that is primarily broadcast on Hailsham FM (Sussex, England) but is also available (almost) worldwide on Mixcloud here. Chris Giles, the presenter, cited his awareness of this duo as a result of 'networking'. I'm going to continue that theme...
He introduced me to this next act and played a couple of tracks from it yesterday. I couldn't wait to find out more. This one is a collection of folk songs revisited and reinterpreted:
The Creek Rocks is husband and wife team Cindy Woolf and Mark Bilyeu both from the territory covered by the Ozark Mountains (they are similar in altitude to the "mountains" in the UK so not Rocky mountains or Alps style) but cover extensive tracts of southern Missouri and north central and north western parts of Arkansas. Wolf Hunter is their first truly collaborative work although both have released music before.
It is released on vinyl, CD and d/l but finding the physical versions in the UK is a slight issue at the moment. I rather like the idea of buying the vinyl for myself as a birthday present, even if it has to ship from the US. The album certainly deserves a listen and you can listen to five tracks from it here.
Last but not least is this news from today, about new music from an artist possibly better known on both sides of the Atlantic than either of the aforementioned. This is the follow up to 2014 self-titled début Arc Iris.
Monday, May 23, 2016
I would stay up all night to write about this. This is cognisant music of the most perfect kind. It wasn't for no good reason that their last long-player 'Me Oh My' was on my list of Albums of 2015 - Part 1.
This is the follow-up to that and I am pleased to say the band has made no drastic changes. That certain predictability - the idea that while circumstances may change, for better or for worse, many things will remain much the same and that a gritty determination, and even redemption, will overcome those that don't.
- On the Ropes
- Blue Besides
- Golden Child
- The Handbook
- The Only Eyes
- Back Row
- Useless Memories
- Piece of Heaven
- Let's Get Drunk
- 500 Pieces
- Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
- Barmaid's Blues
If I could wish to see just one more Americana act at a UK festival this summer then The Honeycutters would be it. It's not that this LP is particularly similar in style to those of either of the others and indeed that is a big part of the whole charm of it. They are each happy to plough (sic) their own furrow, however I regard it as an equally noteworthy one.
I have no reason to suspect that given the current mood here in Britain the band would find anything other than a very warm welcome indeed.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
I listen to and read about far more music than I ever write about. I'm going to make absolutely no secret about why I have chosen this right now. De krenten uit de pop, a blog based in the Netherlands, with which I seem to share more than a little musical affinity, mentioned the South African artist Alice Phoebe Lou and her recent release 'Orbit' only this morning. I knew absolutely nothing at all about any of this but, despite my very sketchy ability to read Dutch (maybe I have a reason to try harder now?) it seemed interesting.
The acid test was of course to listen to it, whilst also trying to find more about the places and influences from where this is coming. It also made me think a bit more about artists from South Africa...
I think that I might have mentioned only one such specifically in the almost 1200 posts that I have published to date and surely that can't be a fair reflection of the situation? That act was Dear Reader, the vehicle of Cherilyn MacNeil, that I saw live at Latitude Festival 2009 and in particular the album 'Replace Why with Funny'. I mentioned that here and clearly I was of the impression that my thoughts about this might have been in the minority though I cannot remember why that was. It's been a long preamble but there is a reason. Why did both artists ultimately choose Berlin?
- Girl on an Island
- Take Flight
- Walking In The Garden
- The City Sleeps
When Hattie Briggs' début LP 'Red & Gold' was released in April 2015 I remember thinking that whatever releases the rest of the year was to bring this was sure to remain amongst my favourites. I was quite right and, given the reviews that the album and her live performances have received in the months that followed, many others feel the same way.
Clearly not one to rest on her laurels and a prolific song writer, just as the spring of 2016 was struggling to get going the 'Here's to Hoping EP' came our way.
- The Lake
- Lift Me Up
- Here's to Hoping
- On Your Way
- Digging to Australia
- Have We Met Before?
- Castle On the Sand
- Talk To Me
- You Only Live Once
- The River
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
This release has somehow blind-sided me but I'm very excited about it. On Dead Waves is a new act but it combines artists I am much in awe of. It consists of two artists with previous recording histories: James Chapman (as Maps) and Polly Scattergood (as herself).
This is what has happened since they met musically, by dint of performing each the songs of the other, at a showcase at The Roundhouse, Camden, London back in 2011.
- Never Over
- Dead Balloons
- Blue Inside
- Autumn Leaves
- Winter's Child
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
After a break of almost two weeks I am back. I have tried writing posts both 'to order' and from self-imposed obligation and neither has tended to work out well. It seems that it is best not to worry about it and simply to wait until the bug, for that it what it is, bites me again.
It's not that I abandon music in these interstices. It is arguable that quite the opposite is true; in this time I have seen seven bands live and this is one of them.
Red Butler was only the second of the six acts to play that day and received a standing ovation from the otherwise seated audience at the end of their forty-five minute set. That might have been a sign of things to come for, as of this evening (17 May), they are confirmed as one of the six nominations in the category 'Blues Band' at the British Blues Awards 2016. A link to all artists and acts short-listed for all categories is here.
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
As well as the simple pleasure of putting it together, one of the highlights of writing this blog is getting to listen to some new music before it is widely released. Quite a proportion of the new music that I buy nowadays is a result of pre-ordering direct from the artist, often as part of a crowd-funding campaign. As well as improving the chances of the music seeing the light of day it also means that the highest possible proportion of the purchase price accrues to the artist. Buying music from the artist at live gigs is another route to the same end but in this case the music already has to have been realised physically.
It comprises twelve tracks, all original songs and also features a number of artists with whom she has performed and worked with previously, including Anna Jenkins and Jo Silverston from The Red Clay Halo on strings, and is released on her own label as were her previous two solo records Tarry Awhile (2010) and Light The Boats (2013) both of which I have mentioned in the past.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Whilst I was thinking about that next "road-trip post" --- it's nearly complete, at least conceptually --- I am amazed by how often I get diverted by things that are local and sometimes actually more immediate. This is one of them and I chose to say diverted, rather than distracted, for a reason.
Songs about shipping, weather and the possibility of a new Hinkley nuclear power station are all to be found amongst the lyrics on offer here. It has helped me considerably in assigning a better focus to the aforementioned project because it made me think rather more about not just what songs are written about but the possible reason why the subject was chosen for analysis.
- Wrecking Days
- Bus Song
- Tide and Time
- Song To The Siren
His original recorded version appeared on the 1970 album 'Starsailor' but the first artist to release a recording of it was Pat Boone on his 1969 album 'Departure', which was released by Tetragrammaton Records in the US. Tetragrammaton was wound up as a result of insolvency in 1971. Pat Boone has, indeed continues to have, wide appeal in the US but hardly any such in Europe.
The best known version of the song, at least in the UK and as of now, is that by This Mortal Coil and that has a very different treatment to the one on this EP. Tim Buckley did however perform it with The Monkees on TV and in its original folk-like incarnation, on 25 March 1968. This appears on the 2CD 'Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology' (2001).
Kitty Macfarlane has recently toured as support for BBC Folk Awards 2016 'Best Duo' winners Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts and she will do so again soon. She is currently supporting Blair Dunlop on many of the dates of his ongoing UK tour including 'The Plough', Torrington, Devon (30 April 2016) and Marnhull Acoustic Sessions, North Dorset (1 May 2016).