Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back To Bat... Music I Want in 2009 - Part 2

The only reason this blog exists at all is because of my innate curiosity. The only reason that, rather than just wondering about it, something actually happened instead is entirely due to one album. That album is 'Fur and Gold' and the artist is Bat For Lashes.

Live @ Latitude 2007

The UK release date for 'Two Suns' is 6 April 2009.

As winter turns to spring, and almost two-and-a-half-years after that début, the second Bat For Lashes album will appear, even fuller sounding and more eclectic than the first, and it is 'Two Suns'. Written and recorded, even if that were not the original plan, in New York, California and mid-Wales the result is something quite different.

Never yet one to turn down an opportunity to raid the costume box, one thing that you can rely on is that, seen live, Bat For Lashes will be nothing if not a true all-round stage performance.
This summer's festivals? Let's hope so!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Doubtful Comforts - luck can do you like a shotgun.

'Want To Listen' Music 2009 - Part 1: Hot on the heels of my recent post there is a début single from Blue Roses. 'Doubtful Comforts' is released on March 2, 2009 by Rough Trade. It is available for pre-order now and there is a limited vinyl 7". For an update on this artist see here.

If you want temptation, but don't blame me, then start here:

An album that has very much become on my 'want to listen' list is by an artist who is well known, particularly for the band she once fronted; it is 'Colonia' and she is Nina Persson, formerly of The Cardigans, in her 'A Camp' persona for the first time since the eponymous album in 2001. After the passage of eight years it is, rather unsurprisingly, not quite the same beast and, arguably, it is an even better one. [See my update on this item - 6 February 2009]

Well that has dealt with Shipley and Stockholm, at least for now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

'True Love', and the patience of a saint?

Good things take time but ever since I mentioned the 'Bad EP - Emmy The Great' 7" vinyl EP in August 2007 I have been, and continue to be, amazed by the number of people looking for it.

Well here is more good news in 2009 - at long last I can tell you something important!
One of the long-mysterious, yet hardly underground, treasures of UK nu/alt/anti-folk (or whatever you care to call it) is about to release her début album
True Love. If you are really quick you might get a signed copy of the CD for £10 + p&p, which would be a bargain, mail order from Pure Groove in London.

I'm certainly no saint here because I've put my money where my mouth is - I've already pre-ordered my copy - which is why I'm telling you this. That said, a vinyl release is also expected (no release date known to me as yet) but don't say that you weren't warned!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rain On My Window - Jill Jackson - lyrics

Thank-you to whoever just asked for this lyric: I've been meaning to do more lyrics for ages and you finally put me up to it and it is, as it happens, raining on my skylight window as I write.

This is what I think the lyric is but it comes with the usual proviso:

Rain On My Window

How do I begin?
How do I begin?
Now, to fly away...
When I can't feel the wind on my face.

I've been running out
I've been running out
Of these things to say...
There's another girl in my place.

And here comes the rain on my window.
It seems like an old friend to me
Who is crying down on my shadow
And knows how lost I can be
Without you, without me.

There's nothing like the sun
There's nothing like the sun
That I see in your smile
And now the day is gone it leaves me cold.

And here comes the rain on my window.
It seems like an old friend to me
Who is crying down on my shadow
And knows how lost I can be
Without you, without me.

Tears are in my hands
Tears are in my hands
And they cut like ice
How am I gonna live without my soul?

And here comes the rain on my window.
It seems like an old friend to me
Who is crying down on my shadow
And knows how lost I can be
Without you, without me.

And there we will meet
Somewhere between
A prayer and dream
God only knows how my heart goes on!

Without you, without me
Without you, without me

I could walk the world
I could walk the world
A thousand times
But I could never find a love like this.

And here comes the rain on my window.
It seems like an old friend to me
Who is crying down on my shadow
And knows how lost I can be
Without you, without me.

Without you, without me.
Without you, without me.

It is a brilliant album from start to finish and one that should be far better known. If I were sent to a desert island with just one album from 2008 then this would likely be the one.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fefe Dobson - Miss Underestimated

This is as much hope as fact - release dates have come and gone but it is true that ever since I wondered and then posted - What Happened to Fefe Dobson - it has been one of the most accessed posts I have ever written. The problem has been that which made me write in the first place! I didn't know and it seems that, popular though she obviously is, neither did anyone else willing to tell.
This is a brief resumé, as I understand it now:
Album #2, Sunday Love, was binned when her recording contract was terminated by Universal and since then the rumours have just run and run. I don't promise, as this is just a preliminary post, but there could be light at the end of the tunnel!

This single is now available, as an mp3 download, from and and she appears to now be signed to label '21 Music'. It is said to be the first single and also the title track from her new album though I have no idea of a release date - here, there or anywhere. If you know if this is correct or not, can add more, even if it is only hearsay, then please post it and let us all know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blue Roses

Blue Roses will possibly be new to most of you but the artist behind it has actually been mentioned in these posts before. In the spring of 2007 I bought a compilation CD of tracks released by new artists titled 'Something I Learned Today' and released by UK independent label Dance To The Radio. Of the artists featured thereon several, including I Am A Cub Scout and Sky Larkin', have become better known especially on the UK Festival circuit. The modest price of the CD was, for my money anyway, worth it if only for just one track 'Coast' - an acoustic, deceptively simple song with eidetic imagery and the creation of unsigned artist Laura Groves.

She is back as 'Blue Roses' and is no longer unsigned as she has joined the already eclectic roster signed to XL Recordings, which includes such well known acts as Radiohead, The White Stripes, Vampire Weekend and Sigur Rós .
While I can not imagine it will sound remotely like any of the above, an album is in the making and I for one can't wait - another one to watch out for in 2009.

Something I Remembered Today

It is that time again when, and never more so than this year, somehow looking forward seems more appealing than looking back. It is true, but the two can happily co-exist in a world that seems to have become just too complicated and frantic of late. Yes, we can have the immediacy of the internet, MySpace and the all rest of the new technology, but it also means we have hitherto unimagined access to music of all kinds, both new and old.

This really matters for it is more realistically indicative than almost anything else. I think it is not a sign of bunker-mentality, rather the opposite in fact. While it may matter to the individual listener the fact is that, be it acoustic folk, thrash metal, wonky, dub step, anything in-between or even something as yet unknown, it can be made available to millions of potential listeners almost as soon as it is recorded and - although it might help oil the wheels - that no longer necessarily requires major label backing.
Twenty five years ago it was a thrill to spend hours in dusty, sometimes flea-ridden, second-hand music stores on the lookout for anything rare or unusual on vinyl. There were things called "stock lists", available by snail mail and typed on wonky manual machines, that were probably out of date well before they were completed! I still adore vinyl but would be amongst the first to admit that the technology that we now take for granted has bought with it both new opportunities and, if used wisely, untold potential. The real challenge, and that is which is almost always the case in such circumstances, is a matter of balance; it is to make the best of the newly revealed potential and the avarice that will probably accompany it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

When 'folk' meant only one thing...

Folk music, and the influence it has on music in general, has had a bumpy ride in the last half-century. It's influence is, particularly in times when largely disregarded as such, just as important as it is actually indefinable. This applies not only to traditional music from Britain but to that from many other places as is now rather becoming obvious again...

This is not least because, and it was ever thus, it has a remarkable tendency to renew by borrowing from far and wide while also maintaining and reflecting its own place and time, so it somehow still keeps its innate and definable integrity. Here is a thought: why would it be otherwise? It has adapted over centuries, in many cultures, to be memorable - that is to play, to sing and dance to; and that is also a definition, which explains a later phenomenon, that we now know as pop!

Call it what you like - folk, roots, traditional or any of the bijou genres (and I'm guilty of this sort of categorisation) such as nu-folk, anti-folk, freak-folk - for whatever it is called it is alive and well in the 21st century. So is much truly traditional folk music and that is a real bonus for, in 2008, it was no longer a surprise to hear a mandolin played in a band that would not, in any traditional way, be regarded as folk-influenced. So what if it is an electric mandolin? To me that doesn't matter much in the context of new music but the fact the instrument is used at all certainly does.
Imelda May plays bodhrán on several tracks on her 2008 album but does that make mean she is any more or less 'folk' than the all-electric Thin Lizzy covering Whiskey In The Jar in 1972?

Of course it doesn't!

Look at the sun, stare in the mirror...

It's not me, it's her!
If I mentioned an artist who, to be fair, has lived much of the last two years in the lime-light of tabloid newspapers you might think that I was referring to Amy Winehouse but I'm not.
I'm referring to one who has comedy in her blood and the presence of mind, given that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and that flattery is little better, to turn the tables to her advantage. The double double-entendre of the title, which is a lyric, is a case in point.
While rather updated for the 21st century it is a trait that harks back to the heyday of British comedy film. If she were to wander into a 'Carry On' comedy, in a retro-inspired dress of the kind she favours anyway, and then tackle the character that Sid James happened to be playing at the time with some leading questions...

It's Not Me, It's You is released in the UK on February 9, 2009.

In a recession everyone needs a bit of old-fashioned smuttiness, innuendo and the feeling that everything bad is actually someone else's fault and, while politically correct for purists it is not, neither is it generally offensive (although sometimes rather lyrically graphic).

Added: February 6, 2009
For those of you on the far side, who are lucky enough to be at the Bowery Ballroom on February 10, enjoy...

It is unlikely to be timeless but few albums are and given the here-and-now it is essential listening. It is not the first album of this name to appear on this blog so here is a link to the previous one:

Monday, January 12, 2009

New and recycled. New Music 2009 - Part 2

I'm not quite sure now why, when writing my post on that music I am looking forward in 2009, I decided to stop when I did. I intended to add some more soon but didn't intend to do it this promptly as I couldn't decide what direction to take first. This morning I woke up with a migraine - hence the title of the post - but as things go the odd such episode is hardy something to complain about and, like dreams, if it serves a purpose then it is one hard to define in importance. I mention that because I suspect that, being both brain-based phenomena, they may not be entirely unrelated and a sort of living version of a soft-reboot followed by a hard-disc defragmentation. One thing I have noticed is that if I have a few vivid dreams (that I can remember) in a couple of days then a migraine might well follow. I woke up on Saturday morning and was mystified to discover that I was not in a tent but at home instead! My dream of being at a festival, though no particular one, was reality at the moment I woke up... Having slept the worst of it off I started to spend the rest of the time this afternoon, that I would normally have spent at work, drinking weak tea with sugar (the best palliative that I have yet found) and thinking about the problem. I don't know if others find this but, in the immediate aftermath, I discover that I have a new perspective on the scheme of things and even a renewed optimism.
In 2008 I listened to a great deal of music from the US and it was more in quantity and far more varied that I could have anticipated.
New York is always a good bet and, while some are particularly championing Chairlift and the 2008 début album 'Does You Inspire You' and it is yet another album left hanging around in my wish list of 2008, I'm going with this one for now and it is the début full-length album from Telepathé who are now, mostly, a three-piece but with collaborators a-plenty.

'Dance Mother' has been long in the making but also preceded by several vinyl and/or CD EPs, commencing with 'Farewell Forest' in 2006. It is released in the UK on January 26, 2009.

This is just a temporary image of the album cover but, judging from the EPs, the whispers and the fact that production duties on the album were in the hands of Dave Sitek, this shouldn't disappoint in terms of off-kilter cheer.
From this side of the pond here is another band that, although also not new, for most of us might as well be so. In 2007 a band called 6 Day Riot released an album 'Folie à Deux' and it didn't click with me then either.

They are back in 2009 with a new album that may or may not be called 'Have a Plan', which is due out by the summer. You know, the long, hot one that we are going to have, and to think that the 'festival season' is only six months away. You see, I've cheered up already!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Revolution74 - to whoever asked...

I must admit that I'd never heard of them so many thanks for your query. If they are from England (Chichester, on the coast at the bottom of the UK and somewhat to the right of that diamond shape that is the Isle of Wight, which is near the middle) is it this band that you mean?

The band website,, appears to be currently unavailable and I wonder if this is because the band has hit the rocks in one way or another...
If this isn't correct or you know more then please let me know by posting a link, adding a comment or just e-mail me.


Happy New Year 2009

What is happy about 2009, you might ask? Well you have three options:

  • I'm an optimist
  • I'm resorting to escapism
  • I'm doing both
Well, in my first post of last year I didn't include 'happy' and look what happened in the world in 2008. Not all of it was bad of course but I'd rather be one looking forward in anticipation than that dwelling on what happened (or didn't) and fortunately music lends itself to this approach.

This is thus my thoughts on 'New Music - Part 1' What to look forward to in 2009. I have just pre-ordered my first 2009 release and it is the curiously titled début album by a band I mentioned last summer, having seen them live at Latitude 2008, and that is The Joy Formidable.

A Balloon Called Moaning - The Joy Formidable
UK release: 9th February 2009

This is the first 2009 album that I have ordered so far and I rather hope that it will be just the first of many. That looks likely because 'Two Suns', Bat For Lashes' second album, is set for an early April 2009 release, which will then be followed by a short UK tour. Music in 2009 will provide endless surprises and even the main reviewers know that, sometimes.
Pop, and curious fantasy, will be prominent again - Victoria Hesketh who (after many band-related trials and tribulations) seems to be the main stream reviewers' favourite in her true-self incarnation 'Little Boots'; likewise I've already mentioned Florence Welch (and The Machine) and that could be pretty scary until you add the apparently cute, but often lyrically shocking, SoKo (newly a singer and songwriter but long an all-round performance-artist, Stephanie Sokolinski) to the list whereupon 2009 starts to look decidedly special and that is that is just for starters! [See here for a recent review of her performing live and here for my review of her set at Latitude 2008.]
I will mention Phantom Limb again. I want to remind you about the album and point out that they are performing live at The Griffin in Frome, where they are already something of a phenomenon, on Friday 16th January 2008. If things go the way they should then in six months time that will no longer be possible! Then again it is a little luxury to live within walking distance of a pub that brews its own beers and has its own MySpace page!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Major labels beware!

That which I wrote in my post yesterday made me think more carefully about the changes that happened in 2008 - and here I mean especially those in music and more specifically in the UK charts.
It should be very obvious to you that I am a huge fan of vinyl and sometimes critical of the lack of 'background' that is still so often associated with even legal downloads. Of course the internet can provide that but surely the need to find it elsewhere isn't exactly the best advert for legal download sites? That can easily be fixed, and just sometimes it is, but why has it taken so long to get to even this place?
I will however give downloads a huge thumbs-up on a different front; a few years ago the UK singles chart had become increasingly moribund and pointless but since all legal downloads were automatically eligible it has experienced a rather curious renaissance. The best part of it is that despite, or perhaps even partly because of, the influence of Reality TV shows the results have been very surprising.
The UK Official Singles Chart has clocked over fifty years but until the last chart of 2008 two versions of the same song had never simultaneously been #1 and #2. The song that was #1 was of course Hallelujah, with UK X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke at the top and Jeff Buckley's version at #2. Ultimately it is Canadian music again and the original Leonard Cohen version was also in the UK singles chart that week. Three versions of the same in the same chart simultaneously and one taken from his 1984 album, his seventh and the one his long-time label Colombia Records refused to release, that was released by independent label Passport Records instead!
Even before the current flurry of attention in the UK it was the most covered song of Cohen's career to date and, while the version by Alexandra Burke is very good indeed, for sheer impact I'd still go for that recorded by fellow Canadian k.d. lang that appeared on her 2004 album Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

Search for her live versions too, for they are often even better!
The CD album is still readily available and it too was released on independent label Nonesuch.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Thoughts on 2009 - so what next?

Happy New Year 2009 - it's an easy thing to say or write, it just happened and it doesn't sound convincing - but what if the old one, while probably memorable, wasn't so for the right reasons?

It would be easy to simply continue as is normal now - gloom and doom all round - but ONLY if that is how you wish to look back a year from now. Look at it this way: this time last year did you expect things to be as they are now? I'd wager that, like me, you probably didn't.
It is all part of a vicarious experience and
if I had to mention my highlights of 2008 then that is easy: family, friends and music in that order. I suspect that 2009 will be more of the same but perhaps rather better; there is even a slim chance that it will be the start of something much more significant. Optimism is rarely dangerous as such, although it can be highly contagious in confined spaces, and it is the one pandemic that would be welcome in 2009.

Music in 2009 looks less predictable than for some years and that is another plus point. The download revolution is maturing now and it might well mean that some little known new acts and artists are able to suddenly burst on to the scene. The major labels will continue to evolve, if perhaps still surprisingly slowly, from the behemoths of old while everyone else keeps going headlong.
Music in 2009 will be simultaneously something and everything - genres will be crossed in ways that only chimaera comes close to describing, dug up, buried, mixed-and-matched with hitherto unimagined abandon. If the sun shines on the 2009 Festival season then it is a done deal; 2009 will be a year to remember and for all the right reasons.

Whatever you have read Katie White of The Ting Tings is 25, and not 40 as some reports claim.

Live at 'Tea In The Park 2008'

If she were indeed 40 you would surely see her advertising anti-aging products on every other page of every newspaper or magazine and you simply don't!