Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Music 2017 - Part 2 - Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Navigator

In my opinion there is never a bad time to welcome a new album from Hurray For The Riff Raff but, as it happens, early 2017 seems an especially propitious one for a number of reasons. Alynda Lee Segarra and her band are always ready to take on social, cultural and political challenges in their songs and there is no reason to think that things will change at least in that respect, this time around.

'The Navigator' - Hurray For The Riff Raff (ATO Records, 10 March 2017).

The Navigator - Hurray For The Riff Raff:
  • Entrance
  • Living In The City
  • Hungry Ghost
  • Life to Safe
  • Nothing’s Gonna Change Girl
  • The Navigator
  • Halfway There
  • Rican Beach
  • Fourteen Floors
  • Settle
  • Pa’lante
  • Finale
The lead track is Rican Beach, about which some reviewers have expressed surprise at the direction of the sound. I like it and even if that were not so I wouldn't be overly concerned. I'd actually be rather more worried if it just sounded like an out-take from an earlier LP and to that end I have pre-ordered the album. I have trust in certain artists, festivals and labels. Hurray For The Riff Raff is most definitely one of the former.

Rican Beach

My Music in 2016 - EPs and mini-albums:

In a decade of writing this blog few things have pleased me more than the relentless rise of the EP and the mini-album: the format, from vinyl to digital, doesn't matter a fraction as much as the use it has seen in releasing small bodies of completed work to a wider audience. Not only does it allow the artist, new or established, to provide rapid exposure to new material it is also bite-sized for the diminished attention span of many consumers in the digital age. With that in mind here are just six such that have grabbed my attention in 2016.

All six are female led; four from the UK and one each from Ireland and the US. I have seen all the UK-based ones live at one time or another, but neither Wyvern Lingo (Ireland) or Lily Mae (US).

Janileigh Cohen, Rising stage, Green Man Festival, 21 August 2016.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Music in 2016 - Albums - Part 2

Seconds away; round 2.
The rules are exactly the same as before and in no way should you think that this list is 'second fiddle'. One of the featured acts would soon disabuse you of that notion simply because of its four members three play fiddle, almost always concurrently!
In addition, this list includes an entry for which the primary language is not English.

Anian - 9 Bach
Applewood Road - Applewood Road
The Black Feathers - Soaked To The Bone
Cale Tyson - Careless Soul
Fara - Cross The Line
The Honeycutters - On The Ropes
Joanne Shaw Taylor - Wild
Kelsey Waldon - I've Got A Way
Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
On Dead Waves - On Dead Waves

This post is entirely me fighting my own corner as concerns the kind of music that I like. The links above might have indicated that. It includes one of the two US artists that I most wanted to see live in 2016 and I did so.

Margo Price and Jeremy Ivey, wife & husband, Woods stage, End Of The Road Festival, 2 September 2016.

The other US artist I really wanted to see live in 2016  was Jason Isbell and I did that too, at Green Man Festival 2016. The above list also includes two of the US artists that I would most like to see live at a UK festival in 2017 - The Honeycutters and Kelsey Waldon. It's looking promising.

This is from the Saloon Bar stage at Truck Festival in slightly challenging circumstances.

Applewood Road, a capella. 15 July 2016.

The few invading troublemakers - they were not merely drunk and disorderly - were soon removed without any further fuss by Security. This is the first time in ten years of festival-going that I have ever been in a situation like this and it was reassuring in the way that everyone reacted to it. Such things happen in many towns each weekend, more is the pity. Ten minutes later everything had returned to normal, but with even more camaraderie.
This is the 'Saloon Bar Stage' after all, so perhaps it isn't such a surprise?

Should you wish to attempt to prefigure 2017 then there is this. Its title is 'Powerplant'. I'm not saying much about it because crystal-ball-gazing is not my thing and look where professional pollsters led us in 2016! I would be lying if I were to deny that there are a couple of items that are interesting prospects indeed. The second album from this duo is one of them.

Girlpool, Big Top stage, End Of The Road Festival, 5 September 2015.

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Music 2017 - Part 1 - Holly Macve - Golden Eagle

A break from lists and an opportunity to start looking forward to 2017 releases.
I actually started to write this about a fortnight ago when the schedule became clear but I soon ran into a problem. I saw Holly Macve live during the summer but could I find the photos? No!
I knew they were not amongst a few lost to a faulty memory card because the issue was resolved by that time. Just now I had an
 idea - by this time I was using two cameras interchangeably, one much more than the other and it was the first time that I had such luxury. It turned out that these pictures had been taken with 'the other one' and I hadn't looked for them where they were to be found even though I had downloaded all the images from both devices. Mea culpa.
With that little mystery solved here she is. As I said ten years ago, when this blog project commenced, I don't have the time or the inclination to review things that I don't care for. My listening tastes may have changed over time but that is a completely different matter. 

Holly Macve, Garden stage, End Of The Road Festival, 4 September 2016.

Her début album 'Golden Eagle' is released by Bella Union on 3 March 2017 and this is the track-listing.

White Bridge
Corner of My Mind
Heartbreak Blues
All of Its Glory
No One Has the Answers
Golden Eagle
Sycamore Tree

Taken from the album, this is 'No One Has The Answers'.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Music in 2016 - Albums - Part 1

It is time for the first of several lists of my favourite albums of 2016. As ever releases are alphabetical (articles, whether definite or indefinite, are included in the list entry but ignored for alphabetical purposes) by artist within each list and inclusion in a given list implies no preference over ones in a later list.
Artists that I have seen live tend to feature highly in these lists and it is true that this applies just as much in 2016 as in previous years. In order to try to prevent that bias affecting opinion I have decided that this first list will include only artists and acts that (performing as such) I have not seen live this year or previously. The result of doing that has, as it turns out, transformed into something of a 'wants-list' for 2017 festivals!
Be that as it may, and with no way of knowing how it might pan out, here it is:

Billie Marten - Writing of Blues and Yellows
Case/Lang/Veirs - Case/Lang/Veirs
Dori Freeman - Dori Freeman
The Drive-by Truckers - American Band
Elizabeth Cook - Exodus Of Venus
John Moreland - High On Tulsa Heat
Layla McCalla - A day for the hunter, a day for the prey
The Moon and You - A White Light That Shines
On Dead Waves - On Dead Waves
Red Moon Road - Sorrows & Glories

All but two are acts from North America but this isn't actually an accurate reflection of my listening in 2016, be that live or otherwise. I think that my subsequent lists will make that clear. Indeed if you know me then you will likely have already spotted a few very glaring omissions of North American artists that have released LPs in 2016 from from this list. What is certainly true is that it has focused my attention on artists that I would very much like to see live in 2017.

[This is just the bare outline of this post but having started just earlier and on a whim, I decided I wanted to get something published this evening. More details, links (those other than to my own comments) and so on will follow shortly. If you find some music new to you and that you like then I'm a happy bunny!]

Comments are always welcome.
They are moderated only for reasons of law, order and decency.

Friday, December 02, 2016

My Music in 2016 - Live albums

Ten years ago I mused about the resurgence of the EP and have never regretted that comment. Occasionally I have mentioned the interest that I have in live music recorded. I mentioned that my 2016 End-of-Year list would have a new category and this is it. Just two entries in this, at least for now.  I think it interesting not just for their obvious differences but, at least to me, because both are by artists that I have been following from the very first time that I heard about them. It is particularly appropriate because in both cases my first experience of both was actually seeing them play live!

I first came across Northumbrian band Lanterns On The Lake at End Of The Road Festival 2010 and I have seen them play live several times since.

Lanterns On The Lake - Truck Festival 2011.

The music is often almost subconscious in its beauty - bleak yet optimistic. This collaboration is a perfect match and in order to maintain the tension it had to be recorded live. This was the result.

Lanterns On The Lake with The Royal Northern Sinfonia - Live in Concert (Bella Union, 25 November 2016).

This next is a rather different beast. The Black Feathers is a duo comprising husband and wife Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler. I have written about them a few times before now; this was in anticipation of their début studio album Soaked To The Bone.
This next was, by popular request, recorded live at The Convent, South Woodchester, Gloucestershire earlier this year. 

The Black Feathers - Live at The Convent (Bird In The Hand Records, 2 December 2016).

It comprises eleven songs, most of them are original compositions but there are a few covers too. This isn't one of them nor is it actually featured on Live at The Convent! It is a live version of an original song from Soaked To The Bone.

'Down By The River, Under The Apple Tree session, 2016.