Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Festival wish list - New Music 2010 - Part 8

To finish what has, aside from music and a great weekend in North Wales, been a rather lack-lustre month I thought I would add some things that have caught my attention in the last few weeks. When I started about two hours ago I had a pretty clear plan in mind; that it became well and truly wrecked on the rocks of new discoveries is just one of those things and also for the longer term good...

These are just some of the acts I originally intended to mention. I've mentioned some of these artists, if only in the side-bar, already so here are a few of them. In truth the list of those still to mention is actually now longer than it was when I started!

Esben and The Witch, Brighton, UK.

Exquisite, romantically inclined, comfortingly gothic (and occasionally electro-acoustic) new-traditional: I recommend any song you can find and they are confirmed as playing Truck Festival 2010. Last year's 'Marching Band' served as a shot across the bows of the competition, and my God has the competition become formidable on all fronts, but the one track that sticks in my mind just now is the more recent 'Lucia At The Precipice'.

The Ruby Suns, New Zealand.
Their album 'Fight Softly' is already available (released by UK label Memphis Industries) and they are confirmed to appear at End Of The Road 2010.

Ones that I have not mentioned before, and that I'd like to see live, are:

Beach Fossils, Brooklyn, NY.
I have heard a few songs and 'Day Dream' is not atypical.

Islands Lost At Sea, Bolton, UK.

The début album is 'are having a lovely time' and to be released in the UK on 26 April.

I could, and soon will, add more but it is past that time tonight. A few throw-away suggestions including, perhaps, some returning acts less well known:

Operator Please! - Australian five-piece in support of their second album 'Logic', due shortly.

New Young Pony Club - new album 'The Optimist' represents a distinct realignment by Ty Bulmer and the crew following 'Fantastic Playroom', which was their 2007 début. For more on this album see here:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mythology revisited - New Music 2010 - Part 7

It may seem that I have posted much about new music from major labels in 2010. That is true but here is something very different.

If I were to start to mention an album that tells a story - in the sense of a drama - you might reasonably think that at best I have come over all 1970's prog-rock.

Hadestown is a rather different proposition.

It is Anaïs Mitchell's fourth album and by leagues the most ambitious: it tells the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice but is set in depression-era New Orleans. It is an Americana opera in which Mitchell sings the part of Eurydice while that of Orpheus is played by Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver renown).
The record is released
(on 26 April in the UK) by Righteous Babe Records and its founder, Ani DiFranco, sings the part of Persephone while veteran Iowan folk singer/songwriter Greg Brown takes that of the careworn Hades. Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem) also plays a part...
This is a fine 'cast' but what makes it work the way it does is the song writing and the arrangements. That is all down to Mitchell.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interwoven threads. Or just a tangled mess?

This is a fundamental question, one that long predates this blog, and it is a multipartite one. Each is a simple question, at least in isolation and on the face of it, that I have asked myself but as a whole the answer certainly is not remotely clear to me...

Here are some of the questions:

Why do I like music?
Why do I like the music I do, but not that which I don't?
Why has my taste in music changed, particular in the medium - long term?
How are these things related, if indeed they are, in any logical sociological, psychological or even physiological way?

They are not easy to answer, although I would like to try and do so and happily share my answers. Now ask those, and many other such related questions, in combinations and permutations, and the whole thing suddenly becomes almost infinitely complex.

My first comment is blindingly obvious; that I do not know the answer.
That actually matters more for perhaps we are not supposed to know the answer as, regardless of all the huge progress that has been made on our collective science and psychological understanding of the human brain that which we now know, or think we do, still does not register on the scale of that which there is to know.

Two albums, one evening, and I just don't see a problem with it.

Who is to say that I should not listen to bombastic Canadian pyschedelic rock and then immediately follow it with an album of lo-fi acoustic melancholia, if that is what I wish to do?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

End Of The Road 2010

'New Pornographers' will swap the ice-hockey rink for Larmer Tree Gardens in September 2010.

They will be joined, inter alia, by the following confirmed acts:

The Mountain Goats, The Low Anthem, Iron & Wine, Black Mountain, Wilco

It is all looking pretty good... I'm going to add links to the artists when and where I can, not least because I enjoyed and appreciated reading them myself. They are not intended to be definitive, and certainly not comprehensive, rather a guide to how I understand the chosen artists might relate one to another.

One of the many outstanding performances of EOTR 2009 was that by 'The Low Anthem' on the Garden Stage on a glorious, sunny Saturday afternoon and they are to return in 2010.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For those who are still doubters...

Charlie Darwin

Set the sails I feel the winds a'stirring
Toward the bright horizon set the way
Cast your wreckless dreams upon our Mayflower
Haven from the world and her decay

And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
Fighting for a system built to fail
Spooning water from their broken vessels
As far as I can see there is no land

Oh my god, the water's all around us
Oh my god, it's all around

And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
The lords of war just profit from decay
And trade their children's promise for the jingle
The way we trade our hard earned time for pay

Oh my god, the water's cold and shapeless
Oh my god, it's all around
Oh my god, life is cold and formless
Oh my god, it's all around.

That is just the first track of many but do you yet know (2007 album) What The Crow

Monday, March 08, 2010

Cover versions and the potential dangers thereof...

Cover versions and the dangers thereof... This is something that I have thought long and hard about for some time. I'm sure that we can all suggest some that would have been better left alone, either because the original was uninspiring (though that is not of necessity a disaster) or that the cover was in itself a travesty of the original. Not so long ago I thought that one or other of these scenarios was the normal outcome but now I'm not so sure... The resurgence of live music has made me think this for several reasons but only sporadically have I mentioned it because it has mainly occurred to me when I have seen live bands...

It is in effect off-record, should it not work out as planned, although very often it does, and the more well known the original the greater the danger. That difficult second album then, so why not? I can think of many who will not like this, some on a matter of principle, but it is very sound indeed and I like it. My opinion is not to be bought whatever anyone, and the likes of NME, might like to believe.

On the other hand this is brave beyond belief. She got away with it too methinks.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A battle we should not have to have ...

The BBC is, I would unreservedly contend, a bastion of public service broadcasting across all formats. It is also, in many of them, available at no cost to those in much of the free world on radio (including the World Service in many languages) or via internet.
It now needs your input and support, wherever you may be and whatever you like about it, more than ever before. Becoming insular, in the modern world, is the last thing anyone needs...

I was determined to say at least something right now. Idealism is a virtue; if only an seemingly unattainable one.


In a year that will see the UK voting for a government here is the chance to practise and, with good fortune, make a real difference. If you think that broadcasting matters then so does politics; more than ever one cannot now have one without the other and this applies whatever political opinion you may, or may not, hold. The important thing is to have an opinion whether or not others agree with it.

If you don't act on it by voting, or otherwise participating, you can hardly then claim that the outcome was a travesty. The time to act is now and it has never been easier to do something.

If all this seems a bit direct, perhaps because you have not campaigned on such an issue before, let me assure you that this is not going to put you on some 'list' of traitors and terrorist suspects.
It most certainly won't. What it will do is show that you care about democracy and that you are are actually prepared to put it in to words and that need not be a scary prospect. Here is a link that explains how to go about it in a persuasive, professional way...

This advice also applies to BBC Asian Net too, of course, and indeed any other service on a far wider plane that is also threatened. We have become too used to grumbling in private while contributing little that is focussed on the wider, often political, debate.
It is a typically British fault, in many respects, and accordingly I'm not advocating revolution for one moment or even suggesting other less drastic direct action, such as strikes or boycotts.
Popular revelation, even revulsion, can be the most powerful force for change.