If you listen to one thing this week…Make it Meursault

The blog’s been quiet. This is mainly due to manically busy times at life and work (running a festival press office), so I thought I’d spotlight something each week that shouldn’t be missed. I might not write very much – if I rush it I’ll be up nights worried about typos – but in any case the music speaks for itself.

Edinburgh’s Meursault are a phenomenal folktronica band, led by Neil Pennycook’s stunning voice – the kind you can’t ignore: it’s raw, charged and runs right into your bones. Their new album Something for the Weakened  is an absolute treasure, you can stream it all here.

Here’s the wonderful single Flittin’

Catch Meursault live at the one day Thistly Fest, near Dunbar, this Saturday, also featuring Remember Remember, Capitals, Woodenbox, Withered Hand and a session from Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison.

In other news I’m also loving the new Niki & The Dove album, Instinct, this is a standout track called The Drummer:

Plus I found a Bob Dylan song I didn’t know, Idiot Wind, which apparently is about his ex-wife selling their story to the papers. It’s scathing and angry, in a great way.

Check you later musos x

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Yusuf Azak Plays…The Velvet Underground

Yusuf Azak is a talented Glasgow based singer songwriter, whose debut album was released on Edinburgh’s Song By Toad label last year, following some self released EPs.  He got in touch with me about the follow-up EP, Prizefighter, four songs which showcase his enviable songcraft and a gorgeous vocal.

Yusuf shared a classic influence as his song of choice, and here’s why…

The Velvet Underground…The Velvet Underground & Nico 

Now listen here folks, when I heard ‘Heroin’ by The Velvet Underground, I was at the tender age of 12, and I lost it. Completely f**kin lost it.  Very naive about it’s lyrical content but I was still delighted at finding this band, and it was definitely a world apart from anything I had heard on The Chart Show.  At the time I just considered the album, The Velvet Underground & Nico,  generally as sixties music, but it took a few years to appreciate it’s experimental approach.  I usually try to sneak it on at any social occasion, or at work, and it still props up on playlists in the house.  I only avoid it when I’m hungover.

The songwriting itself can be very traditional but the drones and the ramshackle performance send it in another direction.  I was really drawn in by the vocals and later on I began to appreciate the unpolished production, especially when I started doing my own recordings on tape machines.  There’s obvious noise right from the start, and lots of warm distortion all over the record; instruments are out of time, and out of tune and nobody seemed to care.  It has a real nihilistic element and it never seems unnatural; and I still find it very infectious.

I fell in love with The Velvet Underground when I was young too, because a boy I liked thought they were the shit. My favourite mix CD used to feature ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and ‘Sunday Morning’, and a great live version of ‘I’m waiting for the Man’.

Here’s ‘Heroin’ with footage from Andy Warhol’s Symphony of Sound, you can also watch an incredible acoustic performance of it here.

I think you can hear their influence in Yusuf’s latest track ‘Immunity or Rescue’ and style as a musician generally, they shared a pared down emotive simplicity.

And you can download his Prizefighter EP for free via bandcamp!  ‘Swim’ is an absolute stunner.

Obsessive Habits…New Band of the Day

Right now I have really annoying obsession. I am literally fixated by the Guardian’s New Band of the Day feature. Fixated.

I’d heard of it before, but never really checked it out for some reason- WHAT an oversight. I stumbled across it properly before I reviewed Brooklyn ‘band of the moment’ Friends and noticed they had been featured a while ago – and they’re pretty good right? So I thought I’d take a look and see what else I might have missed. The thing is almost all of it is good. Really. I’m not lying. I even read the story of the chap who writes it all. He hasn’t had a holiday in forever.

I’ve only been through about thirty articles and there are over a thousand, but I feel like I might miss something really good if I don’t listen to everyone I haven’t heard of. Plus, of course, the new band each day. This could take a while…so in the meantime here are my current top picks

Blondes

Much of the best music comes out of Brooklyn, roll on in dance duo Blondes. There’s something about them I just LIKE.

Bluebell

She’s the daughter of late Monkee’s singer Davy Jones and I like her voice

Zeus

Hand me some alt-rock and funk it up a little, why thank you Canadian’s Zeus

Blood Diamonds

Found myself head bopping to this track, from Vancouver based artist Michael Diamonds