Sunday, August 03, 2008

To listen to in 2008 - Part 4

This is quite difficult to write. I've seen so much live music recently, which is very good but tends to colour ones perceptions in a perhaps disproportionate way, and I've discovered so many new artists across a wide range of genres. I'm glad of that too but it makes deciding what to wish for next very difficult indeed.

If there is any connection then it is the ascendancy of - and probably the connection between - new-folk in the UK and Americana. What they do not share in tradition is more than made up in their connection via live-musicianship and what, just a year ago, seemed exciting in the UK is now happening on both sides of the Atlantic. That is not to say it wasn't happening in the US last year, because it was, but the joining of dots is what matters. Openly referencing trans-Atlantic influences is now not only acceptable but also distinctly fashionable, on both sides, for the first time in well over a decade. Not everyone on either side will embrace the new party but in the year that Sub-Pop turns twenty, and the world is changing faster than at any time since, it somehow seems very fitting that there is something of a return to traditional music; in values if not always in execution for nothing remains the same.

Two albums/artists I want to hear are these:

I saw Noah and The Whale live at Latitude 2008 and this is their d├ębut album.
This band also has close links with Laura Marling, who appears on some tracks of this recording.

Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down - Noah & The Whale (2008).

To mention another, here is a duo that at least on first listen is quintessentially English.

Smoke Fairies met at school in Brighton and later, when it did not seem to be the Deep South that they imagined, decamped to New Orleans for a year and, as that wasn't quite it either, this was followed by some time in... Vancouver!
They are now in London and concentrating on finishing their first album, which should appear soon, and as likely as not it will be another release in a genre that has risen from nowhere in a matter of a few years. In the meantime Smoke Fairies, like many others, are making headlines with their awesome live performances. Whatever else might be wrong in the UK right now live music isn't it!

Smoke Fairies are Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire.
It seems unlikely the album will be without influences resulting from their time in New Orleans and who could wish otherwise?

Smoke Fairies release their first single Living With Ghosts on 11 August. It is available for download and there is also a physical version too - 500 copies, all hand numbered, on 7" vinyl.

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