Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Music 2011 - Part 3 - The Duke Spirit, Laura Marling, &c.

The Duke Spirit is one band my love of which pre-dates my days as a blogger.  They are a five-piece and are well advanced in the recording of their third album.  They are also awesome live and this is just how rock should be...

The Duke Spirit live in New York last weekend.
Too much reliance on the, albeit marvellous, digital age can have its downside! Still there is solace to be found in things thoroughly analogue...  FM radio and a pile of vinyl recordings.

While what I am to mention next actually belongs in 2010 its inclusion in prospects for 2011 is also apposite. Since she appeared on the new folk scene in 2006, most notably then as part of Noah And The Whale, barely a few months have gone by without her releasing something to delight us.

She recently apologised for the delay in the release of her third studio album (now due "sooner rather than later" in 2011) but instead consider it in this light. In these days a gap of  at least two years between studio albums is now quite normal due in large part to the more profitable touring commitments that might follow: her second album 'I Speak Because I Can' was however released on May 3, 2010.  That is not to say that she has stinted on the latter front and for those lucky enough to be attending the Crunch Festival, Hay on Wye next weekend you are in for a treat not least because she is headlining the music aspect on Friday evening:  There are still some tickets left if you have a gap in your diary.

I saw Laura Marling live at Latitude 2010 and the performance was flawless even in the rather wide expanse of the Obelisk stage. As well as the obvious highlights of her own song writing there is the ease with which she interprets and incorporates cover versions into the proceedings. If you can find a recording of her recent performance at Cecil Sharp House (for BBC Radio 1), with Mumford & Sons and covering Dolly Parton's 'Jolene', then I suggest you do so.  Her latest release, vinyl 7" (TMR044) physically, but also available to stream from Spotify, is another pair of covered songs recorded at Third Man Records' studio in Nashville by, label founder and analogue addict, Jack White.
The a-side (it is so good to write that and really mean it) is 'Blues Run The Game', written and recorded by Jackson C. Frank (1965) and from the album of the same name, which was to be the only one from someone stalked by misfortune from a young age.
The b-side is more a reflection on the misfortunes of others by one whose career has lasted decades, is very much ongoing, and in the current musical climate increasingly influential.  'Needle and The Damage Done' saw Neil Young tackling such territory and it was originally released on the 1972 studio album 'Harvest' but it was performed live somewhat before that and I have an admission to make. 'Harvest' was something of a joke in the days when I first started to appreciate vinyl and it always seemed to be in the 'bargain bin' - "Any 3 for £1" - and guess what?  I'm listening to 'Harvest', quarter of a century later and on original vinyl, while writing. I paid over the odds for it too - it cost me £0.50 in December 1986 - and I know that because I made a note of it inside the sleeve!
On the face of it nothing - except for my mysterious taste in music - connects the worlds of Duke Spirit and Laura Marling but in that you are perhaps misguided. In 2006 The Duke Spirit released a 7" Covered In Love comprising two tracks by artists who were then recently deceased.

 2011-related posts about Laura Marling's music:

Further posts on New Music 2011:
Part 1  --- Esben and The Witch
Part 2  --- Yuck
Part 4  --- Low Anthem
Part 5  ---  Go!Team
Part 6  ---  Rhosyn

Part 7  ---  Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo
Part 8  ---  Those Dancing Days
Part 9  ---  Some things I am looking forward to.
Part 10  ---  More things I am looking forward to.
Part 11  ---  New Heads On Old Shoulders?
Part 12  ---  Snowglobe - Jesca Hoop
Part 13  ---  Queen of the Minor Key

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