Monday, May 23, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 34 - The Honeycutters - On The Ropes

I would stay up all night to write about this. This is cognisant music of the most perfect kind. It wasn't for no good reason that their last long-player 'Me Oh My' was on my list of Albums of 2015 - Part 1.
This is the follow-up to that and I am pleased to say the band has made no drastic changes. That certain predictability - the idea that while circumstances may change, for better or for worse, many things will remain much the same and that a gritty determination, and even redemption, will overcome those that don't.

The Honeycutters - On The Ropes (20 May 2016, Organic Records).
  • On the Ropes
  • Blue Besides
  • Golden Child
  • The Handbook
  • The Only Eyes
  • Back Row
  • Useless Memories
  • Piece of Heaven
  • Let's Get Drunk
  • 500 Pieces
  • Ache
  • Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
  • Barmaid's Blues

Jason Isbell is playing Green Man 2016 and Margo Price plays End Of The Road 2016, so that is covered.
If I could wish to see just one more Americana act at a UK festival this summer then The Honeycutters would be it. It's not that this LP is particularly similar in style to those of either of the others and indeed that is a big part of the whole charm of it. They are each happy to plough (sic) their own furrow, however I regard it as an equally noteworthy one.
I have no reason to suspect that given the current mood here in Britain the band would find anything other than a very warm welcome indeed.
This video is for 'Jukebox', which is the opening track on the aforementioned 'Me Oh My'.

It is the perfect match to 'Barmaid's Blues', which is the closing song on 'On the Ropes' and that really matters.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 33 - Alice Phoebe Lou - Orbit

I listen to and read about far more music than I ever write about. I'm going to make absolutely no secret about why I have chosen this right now. De krenten uit de pop, a blog based in the Netherlands, with which I seem to share more than a little musical affinity, mentioned the South African artist Alice Phoebe Lou and her recent release 'Orbit' only this morning. I knew absolutely nothing at all about any of this but, despite my very sketchy ability to read Dutch (maybe I have a reason to try harder now?) it seemed interesting.
The acid test was of course to listen to it, whilst also trying to find more about the places and influences from where this is coming. It also made me think a bit more about artists from South Africa...

I think that I might have mentioned only one such specifically in the almost 1200 posts that I have published to date and surely that can't be a fair reflection of the situation? That act was Dear Reader, the vehicle of Cherilyn MacNeil, that I saw live at Latitude Festival 2009 and in particular the album 'Replace Why with Funny'. I mentioned that here and clearly I was of the impression that my thoughts about this might have been in the minority though I cannot remember why that was. It's been a long preamble but there is a reason. Why did both artists ultimately choose Berlin?

Alice Phoebe Lou - Orbit (6 May 2016, OMN).
  • Girl on an Island
  • Society
  • Red
  • Take Flight
  • Haruki
  • Walking In The Garden
  • Amsterdam
  • Orbit
  • The City Sleeps
I must say that I am struck by this release on the basis of just a couple of listens. What makes me even more impressed, and it is probably more reliable guidance as regards my impression of where this might be going, is just how this is a reflection of her live performance roots on the streets of European cities. This video of a performance near Warschauer Str. railway station in Berlin is actually two years old now. 

I always have an eye and an ear for live potential. This is just tailor-made for a certain kind of music festival.

New Music 2016 - Part 32 - Hattie Briggs - Young Runaway

When Hattie Briggs' début LP 'Red & Gold' was released in April 2015 I remember thinking that whatever releases the rest of the year was to bring this was sure to remain amongst my favourites. I was quite right and, given the reviews that the album and her live performances have received in the months that followed, many others feel the same way.

Clearly not one to rest on her laurels and a prolific song writer, just as the spring of 2016 was struggling to get going the 'Here's to Hoping EP' came our way.

This consisted of Tilly's Song, the original release of which pre-dates Red & Gold, and three news songs as a taster of a forthcoming LP. This is that record.

Hattie Briggs - Young Runaway (Wise Dog Records, 8 July 2016).
  • The Lake
  • Lift Me Up
  • Here's to Hoping
  • On Your Way
  • Digging to Australia
  • Have We Met Before?
  • Castle On the Sand
  • Talk To Me
  • You Only Live Once
  • The River
The ten songs are all new and self-written. 'Red and Gold itself only had a single cover, that being 'Fields of Gold'. The team behind it, including producer Peter Waterman, remains much the same as that featured on the first record. It is however clear that the team had learned a lot during the making of the first.  It shows in a number of ways, from the more intricate use of supporting musicians to the production. The other feature that sets it apart is that it is a set of songs all written over a fairly short period of time. I haven't really listened to it often enough to chose any particular favourites but I suspect that this may not really be possible because, despite countless times of listening, my favourite tracks on 'Red & Gold' tend to be quite mutable depending on the circumstances prevailing at the time.

Whilst I whole-heartedly commend 'Young Runaway' to your attention I very much suggest that you take any opportunity you get to see Hattie Briggs live - be that busking solo, which she often does, or playing with the full band.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 31 - On Dead Waves

This release has somehow blind-sided me but I'm very excited about it. On Dead Waves is a new act but it combines artists I am much in awe of. It consists of two artists with previous recording histories: James Chapman (as Maps) and Polly Scattergood (as herself).
This is what has happened since they met musically, by dint of performing each the songs of the other, at a showcase at The Roundhouse, Camden, London back in 2011.

On Dead Waves - On Dead Waves (Mute Records, 20 May 2016).

This is the track list:
  • Blackbird 
  • Never Over
  • California
  • Hollow
  • Alice
  • Dead Balloons
  • Blue Inside
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Jupiter
  • Winter's Child
The big question, and I'm not minded to make you wait until Friday to find out, is what does this synthesis sound like? I would have been terribly disappointed had the work been unremittingly cheerful.

On Dead Waves.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Red Butler - Frome Blues, Rhythm and Rock Festival

After a break of almost two weeks I am back. I have tried writing posts both 'to order' and from self-imposed obligation and neither has tended to work out well. It seems that it is best not to worry about it and simply to wait until the bug, for that it what it is, bites me again.
It's not that I abandon music in these interstices. It is arguable that quite the opposite is true; i
n this time I have seen seven bands live and this is one of them.

Sunday, May 8 was the latest edition of Frome Blues, Rhythm and Roots festival. All was good but this was a stand-out for me: of course Corky Laing and Martin Turner were excellent - they are both (in all probability) rather older than the parents of any of the four members of  Brighton's Red Butler! This is their début LP but another is to follow towards the end of the year and they played some tracks from that too. This, together with the fact that it is produced by King King drummer Wayne Proctor, bodes very well indeed.

Red Butler - Freedom Bound (2014, self released).

Red Butler was only the second of the six acts to play that day and received a standing ovation from the otherwise seated audience at the end of their forty-five minute set. That might have been a sign of things to come for, as of this evening (17 May), they are confirmed as one of the six nominations in the category 'Blues Band' at the British Blues Awards 2016. A link to all artists and acts short-listed for all categories is here

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 30 - Gill Sandell - Songs Of Our Years

As well as the simple pleasure of putting it together, one of the highlights of writing this blog is getting to listen to some new music before it is widely released. Quite a proportion of the new music that I buy nowadays is a result of pre-ordering direct from the artist, often as part of a crowd-funding campaign. As well as improving the chances of the music seeing the light of day it also means that the highest possible proportion of the purchase price accrues to the artist. Buying music from the artist at live gigs is another route to the same end but in this case the music already has to have been realised physically.

Songs Of Our Years - Gill Sandell (Rowan Tree Records, 6 May 2016).

It comprises twelve tracks, all original songs and also features a number of artists with whom she has performed and worked with previously, including Anna Jenkins and Jo Silverston from The Red Clay Halo on strings, and is released on her own label as were her previous two solo records Tarry Awhile (2010) and Light The Boats (2013) both of which I have mentioned in the past.