Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Mike Harding Folk Show

Don't get me wrong here, I love the BBC and it is a Great British institution. It has taken a beating in 2012, for a number of reasons. It also made a misjudgement of a less sensational kind that, while it did not make headlines around the globe, certainly annoyed some of its followers.
I refer, specifically, to the axing of Mike Harding's Folk Show on Radio 2. He had built it from a mere niche curiosity that filled some airwaves to the point where it had an audience that would have seemed quite improbable. Maybe that was the problem...

He has done what anyone might do in such circumstances. The first entirely free-of-all-influence version goes live at 17:00 UST (in less than 20 minutes time) here, assuming Sputnik and the aerial made from a coat-hanger both work as they should. Heady days.

[To be continued - after listening]
Indeed after not listening. It was one of those glorious disasters - so successful was the launch that it overwhelmed the servers and the result was almost nobody could actually get to receive it at all!  Teething problems are to be expected and the cross-forum banter hints at nothing less. It was a very British triumph.
Indeed it is. It may have arrived slightly late but here it is - the very first independent Mike Harding Folk Show! The rest of the site seems to be working as intended too - its a spoiler but this is the playlist, much debated, so just go listen:

I'm getting the idea that this might be something more than it seems. With the inclusion of 'Wind and Rain' - Be Good Tanyas it is hard to conclude otherwise in the current situation.
Just in case you didn't hang on long enough to record this event, I did. If that were to prove a disappointment then I'd have felt it. I'm listening to it again now...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 6 - Forbidden Fruit

Not so long ago I wrote a post about the resurgence of the live album. One that I mentioned then was by a Finnish blues artist, Erja Lyytinen, and I mentioned that she was touring in Spring 2013 and that, hopefully, this also presaged a new studio album. Here it is.

This is the track list:
  1. Joyful Misery
  2. Hold On Together
  3. At Least We Still Fight
  4. Forbidden Fruit
  5. Death Letter
  6. Change Of Season
  7. Jealousy
  8. Press My Button
  9. Things About Coming My Way
The penultimate track might seem to have a title that suggests 'girl power'. It is indeed a cover version, and one with lyrics that might have made the promoters of 1990's 'girl power' think twice before releasing it.
Press My Button (Ring My Bell) was written by Lil Johnson and recorded, with herself doing duty on vocals, early in 1936. Chicago was quite the place back then. It probably still is.
The album is released by Ruf Records on January 28, 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Music 2012 - Part 27 - Melody's Echo Chamber

Continuing the theme of the last post this is another 2012 début album that I have only very recently found out about. Melody's Echo Chamber is the nom de plume of Paris-based Melody Prochet, who is the principal singer, songwriter and instrumentalist behind this confection that was released in November. (Weird World Records - vinyl, CD and d/l).
I have several previous convictions for mentioning French artists that some might consider left-field, champ-gauche, perhaps? I have not actually done so for a while but this is another and with good reason I believe.

A few of the eleven tracks on the LP are sung in French, the remainder in English. The exception being 'isthatwhatyousaid', which despite its title is without lyric whatsoever.  Her conspirator in this duo, as both artist and producer, is Australian Kevin Parker who is probably better known as the driving force behind the band 'Tame Impala'.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Music 2012 - Part 26

Here we go again! This comprises two acts that I really should have paid more attention to in 2012. The problem is that I didn't and therefore I don't have sufficient experience of their LPs to include them in any current list (except those albums that I want for Christmas). Here are two that come to mind.
This first Stealing Sheep, a three-piece, from Liverpool or thereabouts. The début album, Into The Diamond Sun, is right up there. It's diverse, somewhat electronic, somewhat folky and quite lovable.

This next is quite possibly less well known. It is the début album, Star Map, by North Wales-based duo Golden Fable and was released in September 2012.
It is hauntingly good. Watch out for both acts in 2013 and more links to follow.

If you think this is worth a listen several other tracks will surprise you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Music 2013 - Part 5 - The Stand-In (again)

I have mentioned this album once already. This is the second track to be released from it:

'I Was Cruel', with its mandolin and pedal-steel, would be worth it for that alone. It is actually a whole lot better than that might imply. It is the second track on 'The Stand-In', for which a vignette of what I believe to be the LP cover is in the side-bar and the track-listing as follows:

  • No One to Call
  • I Was Cruel
  • Waiting
  • Only A Clown
  • Dallas
  • Pink Champagne
  • Golden Boy
  • Silver Sings
  • Everywhere I Go
  • When I'm Gone
  • Menagerie
  • Old Numbers
Will it be available on vinyl? Well, it would be cruel not to... and I shall be on the case.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A strange retrospective...

It is strange, the things one ends up discussing at work.
Here is one from today and it is anything but new music! (This album was released on September 18, 1970 in the UK: Reprise Records, RSLP 9004). Here it is...

Album artwork and design: Christine McVie.
I don't expect you saw this post coming and... the above picture is one I took, of my example of RSLP 9004 about an hour ago! It is music from the days that I am too young to remember, but I have owned this LP for twenty-three years now, and I love it to bits.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The lure of the 'Live LP'. Again.

The third 'live LP', that I alluded to in my earlier post has finally arrived at the additional cost of £3.07 in VAT to George Osbourne (no relation of Ozzy, we are led to believe) and a further £8 that went to Royal Mail for conniving with the UK Border Agency. Enough of that, which I suspected might happen anyway, the question is was it all worth it?

Just to have it on US vinyl (complete with the dire piracy warnings) most certainly is!
That all actually matters less than I thought that it would and I couldn't care less about the customs charges now. This is very possibly the best live album (on vinyl or otherwise) since forever though you may suggest others; indeed I invite you to do so - PLEASE DO.
It contains songs from his time with the Drive-By Truckers, material from his 'solo' albums including the AMA-winning 'Alabama Pines', and finishes with (the vinyl that is - it comes with a free download code that contains some extra things!) a cover of Neil Young's 'Like A Hurricane'.
If people say there's nothing good today, and no point in revisiting old themes, just point them here. The album was recorded over two live performances in August 2012; at WorkPlay, Birmingham, AL and Crossroads, Huntsville, AL on 16 and 17 August 2012. I can only try and imagine what it must have been like to be there.

Monday, December 03, 2012

2012 In Music - Albums - Part 2

No real change in presentation here from the last two years; two lists of a dozen albums each and both strictly in order alphabetical by artist.  Despite what I said in Part 1 there is a slight change in format this year... there will be more than two parts and I'm not yet decided how many albums will be in the third.
As always, however, within each list the albums will always be alphabetical by artist and their inclusion in a particular list rather than another is also a matter of chance and in no way a reflection of my rating of their status. This explains why, for those who know me well, several albums that would have been assumed almost 100% certain to be be included in my selection were not in the first list. Two are, however, in this list of six:

  • Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts In Snow
  • Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man
  • Beach House - Bloom
  • Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
  • Tamara Schlesinger - The Procession
Once again links and additional commentary will follow fairly soon and please feel quite free to add comments, queries, suggestions or questions. It is what this is all about, whether negative, positive or simply mystified!
Equally let me know what is amongst your 2012 favourites that I haven't included, either in these lists or throughout the year.
In a related vein, it surprises me just how many and often I still listen to albums in the lists of previous years. This is, for cumulative reasons, becoming something of a problem. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

2012 In Music - EPs and mini-albums

At first I used to start my annual round-up with this category, so-titled as to avoid pedantic arguments about what strictly constitutes an EP!  Where a mini-album becomes an album is similarly obscure, is it the number of tracks or the overall running time?
It was a genre that I suspected might die out but I'm happy to report that a combination of circumstances has seemingly resulted in rather the opposite. This selection is a bakers' handful of ones that caught my attention during the year and subsequently have found myself listening to repeatedly. Another new development is that I hope to include links to tracks from at least some of the works mentioned.
The illustration associated with the first, Craze EP - I Am Harlequin, rather befits the arts-space that the artist seems to inhabit; one where nothing is actually quite what it seems.

My personal favourite is the last track 'Wild One'

The trio of  sisters Haim, with Dash Hutton on percussion, has been cropping up on any number of 'Ones to Watch in 2013' lists in the last month or so. With, I must add, very good reason. Were I to write such a list they would be on mine too. There's a thought; maybe I will.
Earlier this year the band released the Forever EP. As well as the d/l format there was also a very limited UK release on 10" vinyl and this is it.

The next artist is the first from this selection that I have actually seen playing live - at Deer Shed Festival 3 back in July though I was aware of Pip Mountjoy somewhat before that - and the first here that generally plays acoustic and solo. This is her first EP - although, at six albeit fairly short songs, it could be a mini-album.  It is available digitally but also on CD - this latter format being an entirely self-released and home-made work of art.
Lousiana EP - Pip Mountjoy

Pip Mountjoy at Deer Shed Festival 2012, performing one of the "new" songs.
Added 15 December 2012: her second EP, Your Skeleton,  is due out early in 2013 - February, hopefully.
This one is also self-released, by Devon-based artist Alice Jemima, and also available on CD as well as download. She is also a huge favourite amongst the writers of the blog Breaking More Waves, which I highly recommend too. Enjoy!

The following, again available on CD if you are lucky, was probably the first that I knew would be in this list. The good news is that the duo behind it are working towards an LP release of original material in 2013. In the meanwhile check out the 2009 LP One Light Is Gone.

Should you be wondering why my version is black and that next to the audio stream is red it is because these too are all hand printed. Mine is red for the track-listing on the reverse and white versions also exist. As of today (1 December) the CD is still available here.
Last, but certainly not least, is an artist who has just completed a pan-European tour, comprising about seventy performances, promoting this EP and also the very recently released début LP 'Under Mountains' (about which in due course).
Rachel Sermanni is another artist that I saw live at Deer Shed Festival.
You can get a free download of 'The Fog' (live, acoustic version), one of the four songs on the Black Currents EP, in exchange for your e-mail address, here.
Rachel Sermanni, live at Deer Shed Festival, July 2012.