Friday, April 29, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 29 - Kitty Macfarlane - Tide & Time

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.

Tide & Time EP - Kitty Macfarlane (self-released, 2016).
  • Wrecking Days
  • Bus Song
  • Lamb
  • Tide and Time
  • Song To The Siren
Four are original songs on which she accompanies her singing with finger-picked guitar. Song To The Siren is a Tim Buckley cover. The original appeared on his 1970 album Starsailor.
She 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).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 28 - I Am Snow Angel - Fever

I haven't written much about electronic music for a while. This is in part because warm weather seems to prompt me to listen to it and at the moment winter is digging-in its heels for a final show of strength. Spring, and all thoughts of Summer, are therefore on hold. This kind of situation might change dramatically in a matter of days however - I believe in this - and that brings me to this artist whose moniker might ordinarily suggest a winter-time appeal.

I Am Snow Angel is a New York-based electronic pop performer, producer and visual artist and this is the latest release.

Fever - I Am Snow Angel (self-released, 2016).

There is plenty more by I Am Snow Angel out there to find, including the 2014 digital LP 'Crocodile', and there is more to come quite soon. I think that the thing that really caught my ear is that this is not strident electronica; it is pastoral rather than urban, wistful but still restive, and I'm keen to find more that is somewhat like it.
If I want or need to find urban or revolutionary music then I know that there is plenty of that available too.

Friday, April 22, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 27 - Tim Heidecker - In Glendale

I've been thinking about putting up another post that is a road-trip or rail-trip through music. It's an idea that I like and I enjoyed figuring-out the first one but then again it was pretty spontaneous. Ideas and the music to go with them I am not short of. There is no doubt at all about that. There are only three significant matters remaining undetermined; the starting point, the destination and the itinerary. I guess I need a little more time working on that project. It isn't something that I can't conjure up on demand and trying only makes the problem worse.

That neatly brings me to this. A project complete, except for its release to an expectant world, and a project more-or-less about a single place. Tim Heidecker is a comedian by trade and this is his first foray into "serious" music. That might sound alarm bells for many but in this case it shouldn't.
This is his semi-serious take on life, family and anything else (not all of it pleasant) in and around their home in California.

In Glendale - Tim Heidecker (Rado Records, 20 May 2016).
  • In Glendale
  • Cleaning Up The Dog Shit
  • Work From Home
  • Ghost In My Bed
  • Good Looking Babies
  • When The Cash Runs Out
  • I Dare You To Watch Me Sleep
  • Central Air
  • I Saw Nicolas Cage
  • Ocean's Too Cold
Rado Records is an imprint, under the Jagjaguwar label, curated by Jonathan Rado of FoxygenWhatever the sound, and it is mostly indie rock here, music doesn't get much more independent-minded than this.
In a sense Tim Heidecker has a parallel in Courtney Barnett: they are contemplating 
similar conundrums and the resulting decisions but starting from quite different points of view.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Without comment: The European Question.

When The Common Market Comes To Stanton Drew:

Folks say nowadays we've got to change our ways,
The papers say so, so I s'pose 'tis true,
We've got to take the chance, with Germany and France,
And live like all they foreign people do.
Now, I wonder if they'll build the Eiffel Tower on 'arptree 'ill,
Put gondolas down on the River Chew,
Shall us all drive on the right, and drink up all the night-
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew?

Some folks seem to think, we'll 'ave to change our drink,
There's rumours flyin', so I s'pose 'tis right,
They say they've seen a tank of Portuguese vin blanc,
Jammed up in t'High Street t'other night.
They say that port and brandy will sell for £1 a quart,
And the Druids Arms won't close till ver' nigh two,
And we'll all drink caviar from a girt big cider jar,
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew!

Now, as for what we eat, we must export more meat,
Send 'em all our best prime beef and ham,
While we does stuff our guts with Transylvanian nuts
And garlic-flavoured processed German spam!
When George comes home from milkin', he'll get a big surprise,
When 'e sits down expectin' Irish stew,
And 'is wife says "George, I'll get 'ee, a girt dollop of spaghetti,"
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew!

When the market-time comes round, down the pub we'll all be found
Jammin' up the public bar all day
And you won't get through the doors, for Messieurs and Senors
Arguin' about the price of summer hay.
With Timsbury full of Belgians, and Radstock full of Dutch,
The Paulton farmer won't know what to do,
And you might see Acker Bilk advertisin' Pensford milk,
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew!

In the evenin' times I s'pose, we'll sip of our vin rose,
Just like they do in the Argentine
And we'll watch they foreign blokes, with their girt big 'ats and cloaks,
Flamingo-in down on the village green.
We'll 'ave to watch our wenches when they dark-eyed lads gets here,
And the local boys'll 'ave to form a queue,
They'll say "Ooh la la, oui oui," instead of "How's bist thee?"
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew.
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew
When the Common Market comes to Stanton Drew!

Adge Cutler and The Wurzels (1973)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 26 - 9Bach - Anian

There is so much interesting music that is being released in the UK at the moment that I often find it hard where to start and what to choose. This one wasn't difficult to include. It's the third LP from North Wales' 9Bach and follows on from Tincian (2014). Once again, although sung entirely in Welsh, its musical influences go far beyond that - particularly in the direction of Greek, Balkan and near Middle Eastern traditions. In comparison with its predecessor it is also more outward looking in terms of time as well as place. That is not to say that what Lisa Jên articulates here is optimistic. It isn't and it is often rather challenging. Anian means nature and, because Welsh is economical and subtly nuanced in its use of words, also related concepts like natural order, morality and such.
If you find modern mainstream chart music rather bland, repetitive and commercial what's not to like?

Anian is released by Real World Records on 29 April 2016 in the UK.

It was recorded with the same musicians as Tincian, but the process and resultant mood is very different. This is the track list:

  • Llyn Du
  • Anian
  • Yr Olaf
  • Ifan
  • Si Hwi Hwi
  • Cyfaddefa
  • Brain
  • Heno
  • Deryn

The first track to be released is Llyn Du (Black Lake) and the video is all shot in the Glyderau, North Wales.

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Music - Part 25 - Half Deaf Clatch - Simple Songs For These Complicated Times

Well what can I say?
It seems no time since I was writing about Half Deaf Clatch and the 2015 LP The Life and Death of A.J Rail. My memory isn't failing me here, I'm pleased to say, even though it was barely longer than a month back.
That was based on seeing Half Deaf Clatch live in Frome somewhat earlier when he also mentioned the possibility of a forthcoming EP, 'The Apocalypse Blues'. Well you can forget that idea. It has been has now taken on an entirely 
new dimension as a ten song LP.

Half Deaf Clatch - Simple Songs For These Complicated Times (self-released, 11 May 2016).

No frippery is evident in the song titles:
  • The Hush Blues
  • The Blinkered Blues
  • The Apocalypse Blues
  • The River Blues
  • The Undertow Blues
  • The Exodus Blues
  • The Lost Blues
  • The Struggle Blues
  • The Countdown Blues
  • The Elysian Blues
Just acoustic blues.

Added 16 April 2016:
Here is an archive-based video, to accompany 'Apocalypse Blues', that draws on footage of nuclear weapon tests.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why Bristol matters and other thoughts...

I have issues with Bristol. I lived there from early 1990 until late 1995.
I shall try and explain that statement elliptically, in the context of two recent releases.
The first and most recent of these is the third full length from Bristol-based multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd; it follows 
Disarm (2010) and Little Battles (2012).

Direction of Travel - She Makes War (The State 51 Conspiracy, 8 April 2016).

Attempt to place Direction of Travel in a pigeonhole at your own peril. It is dark-edged but often rather uplifting. The opening track 'Drown Me Out' starts with a portentious drum figure. The lyrics are uncompromising and unsettling too; that's just the opening salvo. Even a megaphone is not unknown. 
Elements of pop, grunge, folk and electronica, as well as vocal loops, slither in-and-out like Medusa's serpents and with a coterminous unpredictability. 

The one thing that this most certainly is not is comedy for, as she says herself:
She Makes War... because love is a battlefield.

The video to Paper Thin was shot in Boston and New York, February 2016.

To follow this might appear to be something of a problem. That it is not so is the result of a complete oversight on my part!
This next album should probably have been included in my selection of 'Albums of 2015'. Better late than never, I suppose, and again I will make no effort to put the content in any neat little box. Bristol, Brighton and Plymouth are involved here too.

On The Inside - Wildflowers (Caroline International, 28 August 2015).

A trio comprising sisters Siddy and Kit Bennett, and Joe Ashbury, On The Inside is their first full length release. One quote, regarding life on the south coast of England where Siddy Bennett lived between the ages of ten and sixteen, is really rather interesting.

I had a magical childhood, but Plymouth changes a person.

Taken from the album this is 100 Personalities recorded live at The Crypt Sessions, 4 April 2016.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 24 - Julianna Barwick - Will

I seem to have posted a large run of 'New Music' posts just recently. Here is yet another and a sneak preview. I've been listening to this on repeat this evening simply because I can and I wish to do so.

Will is released by Dead Oceans in North America and Europe on 6 May 2016.

It follows her 2013 LP Nepenthe, which I mentioned briefly, and is her third full length recording. I'm minded to think that is is also the one that I might come to like the best. I have seen her play live too, at End Of The Road Festival 2013, and that aspect certainly comes highly recommended. She is confirmed to play at Green Man Festival 2016 so that is an opportunity I intend to take. The other thing that I have been doing is listening to it some more, from start to finish and now several times. I'm not as a rule much inclined to pick a couple of stand-out tracks unless of course I feel them to be all that is of-note on offer and here that is not any concern of mine.
I suppose you might attribute this to my pre-digital roots when there were only two things available - the singles or the album purchased in its entirety.

Here is the track listing:

Julianna Barwick - Will:
  • St. Apolonia
  • Nebula
  • Beached
  • Same
  • Wist
  • Big Hollow
  • Heading Home
  • Someway
  • See, Know
Beautiful, dreamy and led by keyboards, it's going to take a small and intimate stage setting to show this at its best live - unless of course she has a grand 'Plan B' to reveal, which is quite possible at least in principle.
At End of The Road 2013 she played the Tipi stage with just understated electric guitar, courtesy of Scott Powell, as accompaniment beyond her own keyboards.
Here she is back then at EOTR 2013. The Walled Garden stage at Green Man 2016 would work perfectly.

Whilst I have nothing live to offer from the new album here is an extended live set recorded at KEXP in Seattle a couple of months later:

Julianna Barwick live at KEXP, Seattle - November 22, 2013.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Music 2013 - Part 23 - Karima Francis - Black

I received this in the post yesterday and I couldn't wait to give it a thorough listen or three. The word is that I'm liking it very much indeed.
It seems so long ago that I reviewed Karima Francis's first album 'The Author'. It was back in 2009; it was good and so, if maybe less original, was the follow-up 'The Remedy' in 2012. Beneath the surface lay a major career set back. Not very many would have the strength of character to overcome a rejection like that.

Four years later her third album 'Black' is the result of a successful crowd-funding venture. Karima is supported by an excellent band, the members of which apparently coalesced out of nowhere in the matter of a very few days by dint of good fortune and quick thinking on the part of Karima to get them on-board. It is a record just how the tight unit wanted it to sound, working free from outside interference.

Karima Francis - Black:
  • Black
  • City Walls
  • H.W.T.M.C.
  • Believe In Love
  • Regrets
  • It's Alright Now
  • Shout
  • Remember Me
  • Waves
  • Perfect Dream
  • Blue Moon
I can find no official release date as yet. 140dB Records is managing this release. What I really want to do now is see Karima and the band play live!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 22 - Cale Tyson - Careless Soul

While this is about a forthcoming LP, Careless Soul is the first full-length by American artist Cale Tyson, it is also a very appropriate vehicle for the continuation of a number of themes concerning the music industry that I have espoused over a period of a few years.

Cale Tyson - Careless Soul (Clubhouse Records, 8 April 2016).

Cale Tyson, born and bought up in Texas, now calls Nashville his adopted home.  Both these facts, perhaps unsurprisingly, have had a considerable bearing on his music but in ways that are either not immediately apparent to the mainstream Nashville music industry of the major labels or not to its liking for artistic (and by implication audience) control...
There is a great deal of tradition involved here - this is country soul - but very little pastiche. It was recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL, at Fame Studios and with top-drawer acoustic musicians. This is part of a wider revival and indeed re-invention of traditional country subject material. Careless Soul comprises twelve songs:
  • Staying Kind
  • Somebody Save Me
  • Careless Soul
  • Easy
  • Traveling Man
  • Pain in My Heart
  • Railroad Blues
  • Dark Dark
  • High Lonesome Hill
  • Gonna Love a Woman
  • Pain Reprise
  • Ain't It Strange
A fact perhaps more surprising is that it will be released in the UK before its North American release. In the last decade the change in attitude in the UK towards this kind of music - let's group it under the broad church of folk, roots and Americana just for the purposes of the here and now - has been nothing short of seismic. The traffic in artists has been bi-directional. A look at festival line-ups either side of the Atlantic, for 2016 or in the previous few years, will soon show that to be true.
Why has this happened?
Well I certainly don't know that, but it appears not to be a result simply of a single generation. Both artists producing such music and the audiences attracted by them have been becoming younger without, unusual historically-speaking, alienating older listeners; it pains me to feel I ought to count myself amongst the older listeners. The most encouraging thing is the egalitarian nature of the younger ones and the everyone-has-something-to-bring attitude to all this.

Cale Tyson came to the wider attention of UK audiences in 2015 when Clubhouse records released Introducing Cale Tyson, which is a complete synthesis of his previous two EPs/mini-albums High On Lonesome (2013) and Cheater's Wine (2014) that had only had official US releases.
As a taster, because I like it and it displays some of the old-time flavour, I have chosen this original song:

'Old Time Blues', the song later appeared on the High On Lonesome EP, live in Nashville, 26 March 2013.

Should you be wondering who the backing vocalist is, on the left as viewed here, it is Erin Rae and she releases her début album Soon Enough together with her band, as Erin Rae and The Meanwhiles and again through Clubhouse Records in the UK on 3 June 2016. I mentioned it here a couple of months ago. The pedal steel player in the above video, Brett Resnick, is also one of 'The Meanwhiles'.
I think it important that music is starting to rediscover that there is real value to be found in simple links like this. Music as a space to be shared by all those involved, from musicians to audience, rather than dog-eat-dog, short-sighted exploitation. That is another reason why learning to trust artists, independent labels, festivals and one's own instinct is coming to the fore again as a community aspiration after far too many years under the patriarchal hegemony of the major label system.

Added April 7, 2016:

Cale Tyson and the making of Careless Soul.

Another example of the change that all this represents are the possibilities provided by crowd funding. My next post is likely to be about an album made possible that way.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 21 - Ninebarrow - Releasing the Leaves

'Releasing the Leaves' is the second long-player from Dorset folk duo Ninebarrow, comprising John Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere. It was released on 26 March 2016.

There has long been superstition around a malaise known as "difficult second album syndrome": these days even getting the first album out there and noticed is a huge hurdle. Without a doubt Ninebarrow achieved that, magnum cum laude, with 2014 release 'While The Blackthorn Burns' that I mentioned here.
Like its predecessor 'Releasing the Leaves' consists of a mix of original and traditional tunes and songs. The balance is approximately equal, but you would often be hard pressed to guess which fall into each category. That could be either a blessing or a curse. 
My inclination is much towards the former opinion - this record had a satisfying coherence and that is a very good thing. This is the track list.
  • The Pinner
  • For a Time
  • Lord Exmouth
  • To the Stones
  • Weave Her a Garland
  • Back & Sides
  • Three Ravens
  • Blood on the Hillside
  • Silent Prayer
  • Coming Home
  • Dark Eyed Sailor
The original songs are for the main part inspired by places that the artists love and the associated stories  This anchors them to the chosen traditional songs. If there were to be a critical counterpoint it is that some of the stand-outs that punctuated 'While The Blackthorn Burns' such as  Mother, whilst all present and correct, need more seeking and attention this time out. That I even feel the need to mention this is a situation quite enviable.
One of my bugbears is LPs that don't contain lyric information. Ninebarrow have gone beyond that here by making a Songbook freely available on-line - this includes both the lyric and also information about the inspiration and stories behind the songs.

I became aware of Ninebarrow not through recorded music and my biggest recommendation of all is to see the duo play live. Here is a slightly unusual slant on that taken from the hundreds of wonderful acoustic sessions that are most often recorded by Jon Earl in his remarkable garden shed in north Somerset - Songs From The Shed.

This is 'The Sea' and "The Shed on Tour" at its temporary home at Larmer Tree Festival, North Dorset, in 2014.

In the Songs From The Shed archive you may discover a cornucopia of music that you had not yet realised quite existed, or  existed but not quite in the form in which it appears here. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 20 - Grant-Lee Phillips - The Narrows

After a straight run of UK artists in posts here I guess I ought to return to my other musical influences. This release captured my attention this week and it was an obvious choice after only a few listens.

The Narrows - Grant-Lee Phillips (Yep Roc Records, 18 March 2016).

Careworn and resigned maybe, but not bitter and never malicious, is how this comes across as I listen to it.  Another important thing is that he is certainly no newcomer and I'll leave it to you to explore that aspect should you wish to do so.

This is the track-list :
  • Tennessee Rain
  • Smoke And Sparks
  • Moccasin Creek
  • Cry Cry
  • Holy Irons
  • Yellow Weeds
  • Loaded Gun
  • Rolling Pin
  • Taking On Weight In Hot Springs
  • Just Another River Town
  • No Mercy In July
An early stand-out is Smoke And Sparks. Yellow Weeds too, but to be honest there is nothing notably weak here in my opinion. I could listen to this whilst holed-up in the depths of winter or, equally, outdoors whilst watching the fire burn down with friends late on a warm summer night.
Here is 'Smoke and Sparks' live:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 19 - Sam Green and The Midnight Heist - Factory Studio Sessions EP

One of the things that frequently appears at or near the top of the side-bar of this blog is a poster under the title "Musicians to see live in 2016...". This poster will appear there too in a few days time but in the meanwhile here is a thought.
You could see Sam Green and The Midnight Heist at The Isle Of Wight Festival in June. Failing that you can catch the same at Boomtown Festival, Hampshire in mid-August. Or you could see them, eight weeks before the former, without the need for a ferry to the Isle of Wight and with no camping involved either, at a venue that guarantees that you will be amongst a crowd that does not exceed a hundred persons!
Cast your eyes to the last date on this poster...

Marnhull Acoustic Sessions - Sunday, 17 April 2016. Tickets: £11 (inc. £1 booking fee).

Note added 11 April 2016:
The above performance has been postponed to a later date, to be announced. Tickets are valid for the rescheduled date or refunds can be obtained by contacting Marnhull Acoustic Sessions via the website.

Should you be wondering what the 'Factory Studio Sessions EP', released sometime in April, might sound like then worry not. You can wrap your ears around it right now. That will be as nothing when compared with seeing and hearing the band live.

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist - The Factory Studio Sessions EP.

Monday, March 21, 2016

New Music 2016 - some things forthcoming...

It is true that I have not written here for a fortnight. What is not true is that things have stagnated hereabouts. Far from it indeed - I have been listening both recorded, and sometimes live, to all kinds of things. That includes artists playing at festivals that I am attending this summer as well as many others that I hope I might see live too.

This is the very latest that I have seen live, as in yesterday evening, and I'll be mentioning this tiny venue again very soon indeed!

Megson have a new LP 'The Good Times Will Come Again' that is released on 27 May 2016 and they played a few tracks from it in their extended set yesterday evening. It will not disappoint methinks.

That isn't however the forthcoming album to which I am listening as I write. I'm listening to one that I have already mentioned here. It is released 25 March 2016 and I'll say nothing more about it...  at least for now.
That is not even to mention all the artists added to festival lists in the last few weeks. Some I have seen before, some I never have, some I just can't wait to see once again. Then there is everything else.