I couldn't resist re-posting this.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
I couldn't resist re-posting this.
Monday, April 27, 2015
To spend a Sunday evening at Marnhull Acoustic Sessions is always a pleasure. To spend two there in a row is probably a sign of greed. Oh never mind, I did it anyway.
There were changes - a new, eleventh-hour support artist - Hannah Robinson, replacing Lizzyspit as a result of her loss-of-voice, and I had never seen her play live before.
Some of the album is even a little bit electric. It is certainly thought-provoking.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
'Thoughts on Music' is taking a time-out for a couple of days. It will return early next week. Rather than mull over last night's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which I considered doing, I will hold that comment over until next week.
I decided upon sharing this instead. In a way it is more vital.
I have mentioned 'Free The Honey' before and whilst purveyors of for the most part Appalachian music that is not to say that gypsy fiddle and more beside will not be included, for they are. The four band members - Katherine Taylor, Jenny Hill, Lizzy Plotkin and now made complete by Andrew Cameron (upright bass) come from a wide milieu but are all based in the high mountains - Gunnison, in western Colorado. Free The Honey is working towards a début LP.
This was a support set to further that project. You will have to suffer, or fast-forward, the rambling introduction but that has nothing to do with the band. We have all been there, I'm sure, in similar circumstances. I'd recommend that you start 7 minutes 19 seconds in.
The pound Sterling reached a three-month high against the US dollar at the end of the week, so of course I took advantage of that!
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
This release is much awaited and not least by me. It is the latest LP from Lau, a three-piece band that I saw live at End Of The Road 2014 and that I mentioned here.
It is also an example of something else, which might be of interest and not only to thrifty neophiles...
It is free to stream, legally and in full although not necessarily of the highest bit-rate, before its release and possibly only for a limited time. You can find this example at...
No, that's not fun at all. I'll let you find it yourself. An added twist is that production duties on 'The Bell That Never Rang' were helmed by Joan Wasser. There are only six tracks on it and the title track is seventeen minutes long.
If you are interested in music from at least of now little known artists (and they all have to start somewhere) then the world is your oyster. There are also ways to get music in advance that might cost no more than buying the product when and if it happens - PledgeMusic, Kickstarter are example of this crowd-funding approach and there are many others. I have several LPs that are yet to see public release this way and the bonus is that they are signed copies.
The point may sound Holmesian but is that you have to keep eyes and ears wide open at all times and discretely carry a pocket notebook* so you don't forget things. It is amazing what you can learn at live events, especially festivals, even if it is merely overheard chatter. [Alcohol loosens tongues but certainly doesn't help with remembering what you saw or heard/were told the previous day.]
Beyond that it is up to you and your ingenuity to find out what, if anything, that which you heard or saw means in the great scheme of things. The most important insights are the subtle ones.
It is a passé concept I know. Here's why it is important. You can write in the dark and the damp and your notes will almost certainly survive in a legible form even when the paper dries out. It doesn't have batteries that might go flat or a lit screen that attracts attention to what you are doing (inevitably so in the dark).
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
In between hopping across the Atlantic with this blog, if only metaphorically though I would given the chance, it is more than refreshing to trundle a score of miles through the English countryside full of spring blossom to a gig in a village hall to hear such quality as was showcased last Sunday evening.
It was supposed to be a double bill. That it was a triple was the source of some pre-event strife, but did not impinge on the evening for the audience. The 'extra' was Simon Kent playing with only a drummer for company and at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances. I have to say that he was someone who I was only peripherally aware. It was a short set but it has certainly inclined me to investigate further.
He played tracks from both his released LPs, and three brand new ones (the bedroom sessions!) and also this. It is a cover of kinds, I suppose.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Today is Record Store Day 2015 on both sides of the Atlantic. The press will be covering that on all levels without the shadow of a doubt. I will leave them to it, at least for now, in favour of the tenets that underpin it.
There would be none of this without the independently-minded artists and the labels, venues, festivals and stores that support them, and hopefully the mutual benefit they derive from that. It takes a certain mentality for all of this to exist, let alone thrive. I decided to choose one artist to represent all of this. From the many possibilities it is Samantha Crain.
I first heard about her a couple of years ago, although I forget quite how, but last summer I saw her play twice at festivals.
She is a story-telling songwriter above anything else and that scenario often works best in an intimate live setting. Here she is playing the Tipi stage at End Of The Road Festival 2014.
She releases her fourth studio album 'Under Branch & Thorn & Tree' this coming summer on Ramseur Records in North America and Full Time Hobby Records in the UK.
This recent interview, first published in the Tulsa Voice (OK, USA), is too interesting to miss out on.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Less than a fortnight ago I mentioned the forthcoming Jason Isbell studio LP. This is confirmation of 'Something More Than Free' and some of the material that will appear on it. The eleven songs include:
- 24 Frames
- Children of Children
- If It Takes A Lifetime
- Palmetto Rose
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
So how did this happen?
Well I was just following this and that, about festivals and stuff. They say never judge a book by its cover - and that applies to music - even digital artwork I suppose. I didn't get a chance because the music came first - I had to search for the artwork myself but it was worth it.
Forced to put a finger on it this female-fronted four-piece from the south coast of the UK is either pop-rock or rock-pop.
That it is not worthy of the lazy comparisons, particularly with certain American acts that may be held to be in that category, and with which Orchard Hill has seemingly come to be compared is without doubt.
In that sense the subdued artwork says as much as it possibly could. This EP is an example of the British sentiment for understatement, if ever there were one. Never maudlin, it is a fine example of cheerfulness in adversity; the title alone bears that out.
Listen to this.
See Orchard Hill live. ASAP [also a note-to-self]
I never sure whether to make this sort of addendum a post on its own or to add the items to (recent) posts about the same act or artist. In this case I have avoided the issue as such and chosen a combination of the two concepts. These first two are added to recent posts (links included below):
- Sound of The Sirens - 'Faith in Fire' (live, Plymouth, 11 April 2015) here.
- Annabelle Chvostek - 'Be The Media' (live studio session) here.
This next is in a sense a cover of a cover. The song 'Fields Of Gold' was written by Gordon Sumner, aka Sting, but the famous version is that by the late Eva Cassidy. This is a live version of that recorded by Hattie Briggs, and from her recent début album 'Red & Gold', that features violin and was also mixed by Eva Cassidy's brother Dan Cassidy.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
To be honest it wasn't going to be long until Sweden reasserted its claim to producing some astonishing music. The Söderberg sisters - aka 'First Aid Kit' - may have seemingly crossed the ocean, and very successfully too, but that leaves a gap of kinds, I suppose. She might not like this billing, or indeed some of the other comparisons that have recently come her way, but the chances are that she can outflank that. She is Jenny Lysander.
It is almost 13 April as I write and Behind the Castle Festival is therefore just two short months away.
Get your tickets here and especially if you wish for camping on Saturday for these are very limited and will all be gone soon. The line-up is of course stunning from start to finish. There is nothing not to cherish, which it just as it should be. With three stages there will be some agonising choices to make; I have been promised that. Bring it on, this as a festival compact enough to see part of one set and then part of another without missing much whilst between them.
I'm not saying, because I won't decide until the very moment, what I want to see most. Here is a Spotify playlist including some, but not all, of the artists that will be there on the day. It is entirely my own choice of songs, of course, but hopefully provides some idea of what is on offer.
There will almost certainly be additions and updates. I just needed to post something at the point that I had got to. It might just help fend off some of that the Monday feeling too - it is nearly 100 minutes long.
The Spiral Earth Awards 2015 have now been announced and two of the winners, both for albums, are playing BTCF 2015:
Moulettes - best album - Constellations
Larkin Poe - best Americana album - Kin
If that weren't enough another of the winners - Blair Dunlop , best solo artist, is playing Marnhull Acoustic sessions this coming Sunday (19 April) and that is not all; Emma Stevens is supporting.
This artist has featured in these pages a few times before but not as Du Blonde. The new LP 'Welcome Back To Milk' is released on Mute Records on 18 May 2015 in the UK. It was always extremely unlikely that she, so therefore the album or its artwork, would become bland. Her pop-art illustrations and often black and white photography are quite something. She makes her own stage costumes too.
Here she is with 'The Hooves of Destiny' at End Of The Road 2011. Du Blonde is confirmed for End Of The Road 2015.
The first track released from the new LP is 'Black Flag'.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
This artist, and her new album 'Ivy Tripp', handily combines the themes of artists from across the Atlantic and those that I'm looking forward to seeing live at a festival in 2015.
Waxahatchee is the project of Katie Crutchfield, originally from from Birmingham, AL and this is the latest LP. It is already released in the UK/EU/RoW by Wichita Recordings. In North America it is released by Merge Records. This, taken from it, is 'Under A Rock' and there is a whole lot more than this one song to be gained from this LP. I'm set on the idea that the tracks released as "singles" may not be those which are most important live - that is hardly a revelation but it is an important consideration nevertheless. I'm not even convinced that this is one of my favourites in any case, which is far more a recommendation than at first it might seem.
There is a video to this song too, as has now come to my attention.
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
I have been listening to so much music lately and in part connected to the festivals that I am attending this summer. This album however, although in some ways connected to my previous post, really needs a post of its own.
It also nicely illustrates two points: the first is that I can't possibly keep up with all new music that I might wish to in real time and therefore that once again it is wise to keep note of independent labels that one trusts.
This is the opening track to the LP and 'Slow and Easy' is a pretty gentle introduction as its title might suggest. I can do no better than this summary:
Rock 'n' Roll ain't pretty and neither is Scott H Biram. Below the link to 'Slow & Easy' is the full track listing.
- Slow & Easy
- Gotta Get to Heaven
- Alcohol Blues
- Never Comin' Home
- Jack of Diamonds
- Nam Weed
- Backdoor Man
- Church Point Girls
- I'm Troubled
- Around the Bend
So, my second point about all of this is...
Well... I'll just keep y'all waitin' for that.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
I was always intending the theme of new, or new to me, music from North America to be the theme of a few upcoming posts. I have been listening to plenty of it, across various genres, recently.
Southern Rock hasn't been such a big deal, certainly viewed from a UK perspective, in recent times but maybe that isn't the way things will remain. This next band was going to figure here regardless of the foregoing. It is not the same, I don't suppose they ever intended that, but it is worthy of a listen I think.
- Cricket (At Night I Can Fly)
- Day Like Any
- Cupid's Arrow
- It's the Thing to Do
- Last Rock 'n' Roll Boy to Dance
- Red Banks
- Tonight Will Be Fine
- Tennessee Valentine
That said, this is the track-list I believe:
- Be The Media
- Black Hole
- This Night
- Carnal Delights
- You Can Come Now
- Like A Hurricane
- Inside The Scream/Screen
Friday, April 03, 2015
If you have been drowning under the deluge of media concerning the forthcoming elections, both national and (at least here in Frome) very much local, then here is an antidote to the traditional yawn-inducing stuff this coming Tuesday. Bear in mind, however, that music and politics have a long and glorious connection...
So what is that to do with politics? Quite a bit, actually.
This event is a fund-raiser for Frome and Somerton branch of The Green Party. Al O'Kane is standing as a candidate for Independents for Frome in the forthcoming Frome Town Council elections. What happened the last time there were elections for Frome Town Council, in 2011, has become the stuff of legend. And then, palpably, they delivered. That applies to their plans but also and rather importantly it seems, to the wider attention that it has garnered for Frome both nationally and sometimes internationally.
The £½ million spent on bringing the Cheese and Grain venue up to modern standards, in the café-bar of which this concert is being held, is just a small part of that. There may well be more to come. Let's hope so.
What is more it has just been announced that Al O'Kane is one of the six finalists competing next Saturday, 11 April, at Sixty Million Postcards in Bournemouth, for a slot at Larmer Tree Festival 2015 in the final of The Larmer Tree Breakthrough Music Awards 2015. I have to admit that I have never really been to Bournemouth, and certainly not to see music.
It is the deep south. Maybe I should reconsider that.