Monday, September 24, 2012

The Procession - New Music 2012 - Part 24

Much of the new music that I have mentioned, and indeed purchased, of late has been driven by artists that I have seen over this summer's festivals. These two solo albums, both by artists whom you may know from their 'band' guise, were released in August. I saw neither live this summer.
Tamara Schlesinger, also of '6 Day Riot', released her second solo album and the follow-up to 2004's rather wonderful (but currently hard to source) From Home To Home. Her new LP is The Procession, released on Tantrum Records as TANTRUMCD008.

It is made up of many layers of her vocals recorded acapella with the subsequent addition of strings and some judicious electric guitar and percussion. The playlist is as follows:

The Procession - Tamara Schlesinger

1. Yai Yai
2. I Go
3. Can You See Me?
4. So Long
5. My Future
6. Get Down
7. Find a Way
8. My Home
9. Again
11. Who's Won?

The next is this is from over in Canada and the début solo album from 'Po' Girl' member Awna Teixeira.
It may well come as no surprise, if you know my likes in music, that both LPs cover a fair range of subject matter and far from all of it is cheerful but then neither is it overly depressing; it comes with a healthy dose of optimism and redemption inbuilt. This one is released by Hazy Tales Music.

Where The Darkness Goes - Awna Teixeira

1. Stand Tall 4:53
2. Minha Querida 4:09
3. Where the Darkness Goes 4:44
4. Some Kind of Dream 3:49
5. Faden 5:17
6. Prince of the Park 4:06
7. Rest Your Mind 4:36
8. Stargazer 3:44
9. The Little Review 4:57
10. Little Piggy 4:16
11. Blooming Bounty 3:12

I recommend these particularly if you are finding the current mainstream (radio, etc.) content lacking something new. It takes a little time and ingenuity, but almost no money, to legally discover more new music than you ever knew you didn't know about. The artists will be delighted for the publicity too, should you like what you hear and see fit to tell others about your finds.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

EOTR 2012 - Thoughts on new music 2

The reformed Grandaddy and Grizzly Bear were both awesome and some of my friends might have regarded one or other as their own particular highlight of the festival but were I forced to do so, and somebody just posed this question, the highlight of End of The Road Festival 2012 for me was Alabama Shakes. This is, in some ways, a justification for buying an 'early bird' ticket. Just like trusting labels it is a convenient opt in - I know that I can trust the EOTR organizers to put on more bands that I want to see/hear than will actually be possible - and so I already have a ticket for EOTR 2013 (and NDH 2013, too). This means that as the booked artists become known, over the ensuing months, the excitement is purely that of anticipation. When I came to know that EOTR 2012 had Alabama Shakes on the list anticipation started to take full control. I had pre-ordered the début album 'Boys and Girls' on vinyl and at the first opportunity, so I already knew the songs quite well, and then this happened...

Alabama Shakes, the Woods Stage, at about 19:45 on Saturday.
Songs that do not appear on the album were awesome too.
This is soul-blues of the of the highest order and they are generous with it too appearing for a second time, on the Big Top Stage on Sunday evening and also various other unadvertised performances. This is another picture from the Woods Stage on Saturday.
Simply astonishing
Brittany Howard does have a phenomenal voice on the recording and yet still chooses to wear glasses while performing live, simply out of choice.  It is quite the statement of who she is and this authenticity is at the heart of Alabama Shakes. When heard live that voice makes the vinyl recording sound rather ordinary and, good-as-she-is with guitar and there is no doubt about that either, live the band is tight as hell.
Live music probably doesn't get much better than this but please feel free to prove me wrong.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer Festivals 2012 - Deer Shed 3

I recently became aware of the fact there is that a whole lot about my experiences at festivals during the summer of 2012 that I have never mentioned. I think that I shall commence the remedy starting with Deer Shed Festival 3, Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire in mid-July. Before I start on the music the food stalls were amazing. When I find the card, I know it is somewhere just around where I am now, I shall name and fame the stall that sells the best pork pies in the world, ever: Sorry, Melton Mowbray.
I was listening to Simon Raymonde's show on this evening and it included a live session with, originally Southampton-based, four-piece Pale Seas and they are good even though they have yet to release their first album.

Pale Seas on the '(Far from the) Lake Stage' at Deer Shed Festival 2012.
Things beckon for them in 2013 much as happened a couple of years ago to this band that met at Cardiff University and then discovered that their planned career paths might need a slight rethink.
 Los Campesinos! on the 'Main Stage' at Deer Shed Festival 2012.
This was a band that I had long wanted to see live and one that certainly didn't disappoint. In fact nothing about this festival was a disappointment. It was also phenomenally family friendly so here is a picture or two of that aspect to finish this post.

This was free for kids to decorate before, once complete, it was floated in a pond.

In the main arena, Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Here We Go Magic - the internet and poster art.

In its strange way the internet has revived band art - and never more so than that for gig posters. Even in the heyday of bill-sticking you would have been unlikely to find this pair, although they are for gigs by the same band less taking place less than a week apart, side by side.

On the subject of Here We Go Magic please consider the band and the album 'A Different Ship', released by independent label Secretly Canadian, to be in the category of new music that has captured my attention of late and in this case mainly due to the ministrations of Amazing Radio.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

EOTR 2012 - Thoughts on new music...

One thing that really appeals to me about End of The Road Festival is the chances it offers to see new music. I mean that - new - in a variety of senses; some of it simply entirely new to me, some new to me live and some about which I am aware (or was aware of) but have subsequently forgotten to follow up.
I really haven't any preconceptions about how this post will unfold, hence this preamble!  I'm not even sure how or where to start. Indeed I have only written this in order to commit myself to actually writing it...
I'm going to have my dinner first and then, somehow or other, get going on this. One thing that is quite certain is that it simply won't work in any festival time-line way.
This is what I decided to start with and for a rather strange reason - listening to a 2010 UK modern-folk album 'One Light Is Gone' by Josienne Clarke.  The reason being that when I heard Hurray For The Riff Raff (live, it so happened) for the first time it had the same impact that hearing the aforementioned album did: that is the admonition-to-self  - "WTF?  Why didn't I already know about this?"

Hurray For The Riff Raff, Woods Stage, EOTR 2012 at 12:00, Sunday.
Suffice to say it was 'one of those moments' and that this is another band that I saw twice at EOTR 2012. I promptly purchased the 2012 album 'Look Out Mama', to which I am listening while writing. On reflection there are not many times that I have consciously found myself trying to work out lyrics to songs that I'm listening to live and hearing for the first time. When it happens three times, pertaining to totally different acts in the space of three days, it is becoming something of an addiction! It is likely to define the rest of this post.
It became no secret that Alynda Lee Segarra and her band much prefer playing small venues in the early hours but the pictures above were both taken on the outdoor main stage just after mid-day...
OK folks. Fourteen hours later, on the Tipi Stage, 2am Monday!
If you think the story of the evolution of Hurray For The Riff Raff is convoluted than it is easily exceeded by that of the next...
Kai Welch and Abigail Washburn opening The Garden Stage on Saturday.
Bluegrass tunes, but sometimes ones with Mandarin Chinese lyrics.
This one was a case in point.
Whilst she explained the bones of how this apparently odd but actually extremely likeable combination, at least to my ears, came about there is a fuller history to be found here.

The article finishes like this...

" [She played] a recently written murder ballad, her delicate frame dwarfed by the surreal dimensions of the cello banjo.
"It's a cut that didn't make the album [City of Refuge] because the producer thought it was too morbid," she explains. "But all the old-time tunes have a female victim. I thought 'How about writing a song which gives the girl a gun for a change?' "
She did not have the 'cello banjo at EOTR but she played the song nevertheless, with Kai Welch on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, and the whole set was a highlight of the weekend - if only one amongst many. That only goes to show just how strong and yet diverse End Of The Road Festival actually is.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bella Union is 15 (Part 2) - EOTR 2012

It has certainly taken me a little longer than I intended to put this, the second half of my account of Friday at End Of The Road Festival (EOTR), together but my ambition increased as I was writing the first part and I decided to include some stuff about bands that were performing but that for reasons of clashes I was unable to catch on August 31 but have had the good fortune to see live at other recent festivals.
I am indeed going to start with one of them, London four-piece 'Veronica Falls', fronted by Roxanne Clifford that appeared on the Big Top Stage at 20:30 on Friday (whilst I was watching 'The Low Anthem' on The Garden Stage).
Here they are performing at the first No Direction Home Festival at Welbeck Abbey back in June this year - a festival that has the same team as EOTR behind it.

They were excellent then, notably including several new songs not on the album, and I heard similarly good reports about their more recent performance at End Of The Road.
The act that had preceded them on this stage at EOTR was the Swedish electro-gaze duo of Fredrik Balck and Maria Lindén, with bass and drums for the live gig, otherwise known as 'I Break Horses' and touring their 2011 début album 'Hearts'. It proved to be a quite fascinating dichotomy. Whilst on the recorded version, to which I am listening as I write this, the music is really rather soothing and fittingly autumnal - evoking mists and mellow fruitfulness - the same proposition live is by turns squally and unpredictable; decidedly that of the darker side of autumn, of gales and lashing rain but also sudden, striking glimpses of the sun. Given the recent renewed interest in releasing live albums, which really ought to be the basis of a future post, this would certainly be an interesting prospect.
'I Break Horses', The Big Top Stage, EOTR 2012 performing Winter Beats.
The first Bella Union act to grace a stage on Friday was a four piece from Oklahoma that, in terms of live music certainly, was quite new to me. I was impressed...

'Horse Thief' live on the Big Top Stage at about 11:55 on Friday morning.
So good in fact that one way and another I saw them play two complete sets within the same calendar day - and there aren't very many acts or artists about which I can say that.
As for the next band what can I say? It is the third time I have seen them live at EOTR in four years... It is of course 'The Low Anthem'...

On the Garden Stage, where else, at 20:20 on Friday.
Then came the really big decision. 'Midlake ' headlining The Garden Stage at 21:45 or 'Beach House' doing that duty on the Woods Stage from 21:30. This was for me one of the easier decisions of the day and there was no chance that it would be anything other than watching all of one or all of the other. I have seen 'Midlake' twice live but never Baltimore's 'Beach House'...
'Beach House', The Woods Stage at EOTR 2012 at 22:03 Friday evening.
This was one set, of only a few, where I had no particular interest in being right at the front --- for me it was almost entirely about the music performed live and it certainly did not disappoint.
When they came off stage, at about 11pm, there came the realization that it was now 11 hours of live music today and with four hours more still to go - and then to do it all over again for the next two days.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Bella Union is 15 (Part 1) - EOTR 2012

Once upon a time, decades ago and when all was good in the world, there were record labels (remember those things) that you could rely on. I mean that in the sense that if they were on your list of labels to 'like' you could trust that a new release would be at the very least likeable and most possibly lovable even if totally unheard?
Why would one worry about the Iron Curtain, The Cold War or 'mutually assured destruction' when you have a comforting blanket like that?  Or indeed the anti-war artists nibbling at the mainstream... be it in response to events in Malaya, Korea, Vietnam or simply part of a vision of utopia? 
Well, while we haven't reached our panacea yet though the signs are not as poor as some might believe, at least we've got dependable labels back and that is a damn good start.
One of them, Bella Union, is fifteen now and its teenage birthday party was the Friday of End Of The Road Festival 2012 across all four music stages with bands from the Bella Union family. Like all the best parties it started rather early and finished rather late...

Here, on the Garden Stage at around 1pm, is Mountain Man.
Traffic issues, associated with The Dorset Steam Fair apparently, meant they arrived just in the nick of time and without any kit. They borrowed this guitar, that they had never seen before, and promptly nicknamed it 'The Cadillac' - for its white lacquer and shiny chrome fittings...
Suffice it to say that it was not what they would have chosen.
After this start you just knew that it was going to be a remarkable day.
Flitting between the various stages at End of The Road is happily very quick and easy to do so off we go to the tented Tipi Stage.  In this case there is a real problem... I didn't take enough pictures but here is one of the only two that I did.
Hannah Cohen, The Tipi Stage @ EOTR 2012.
Another Bella Union artist and her début album 'Child Bride' is quite something. The thing about Bella Union artists, however, is that they are unfailingly good when performing live.
Bella Union does not however just help new artists on the way by releasing their first album... indeed it only signed this one for her second, 'Time Traveller' (2011), although at 22 she is hardly an old-timer. I saw her live at Truck Festival last year, performing with a band, and am now of the opinion that she is better live as a solo artist as here for the band tended to overwhelm the purposefully-fragile beauty of her song-writing and never more so would it be true than of the brand new songs that she essayed last Friday. This really is Alessi in Wonderland and (the prospect of) album #3 is a reason to continue living.
Alessi's Ark (Alessi Laurent Marke)  on the Tipi Stage @ 15:05 Friday, August 31.
This next artist however, although only recently added to the Bella Union rôster, released his first solo album when I was just a toddler! That, and the next two, have recently been re-released on Bella Union and to go with it he has returned to live touring. He is one of the legendary American songwriters and, as it happens, also a gifted raconteur between those songs.

Van Dyke Parks - Garden Stage @ EOTR 2012, about 17:15 on Friday.
This of course just a part of the party and then only those bits of it that, being unable to be in more than one place at a time, I chose to see! Part 2 of that which I saw of the party will follow tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

New music for autumn? Just go find...

It's not difficult, nor is it illegal, to find new music...
Here, therefore, is my choice for today and it has nothing whatsoever to do with End Of The Road Festival this weekend just gone.

It is the second album by Seattle-based trio Seapony.

At least for the moment you can legally stream it here and I just thought that I'd give it a shout-out. It is most remarkable for what it is not.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Now explain this...

It is what live music is really about: 02:40 BST on September 3, 2012.
They are as thick as thieves.