Category Archives: americana

From My Shelf: Iron & Wine

I’m a fan of American Singer-Songwriter Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine and have kept an ear into his albums over the last decade. Around the Well is a collection of ‘B Sides and Rarities’ released on Sub Pop, marketed the right way for me as I’m fundamentally against ‘Best Of’ collections (if you like a band you should listen to all their material).  I listened to this again in the supermarket yesterday, a disorientated activity which left me with a random shop!

Iron and Wine Cover

Favourite songs

The first CD offers softer, more pensive tracks including previous single ‘Call Your Boys’, the beautiful, echoing ‘Morning’ and ‘Friends Are Jewels’. On the second I love the guitar on ‘No Moon’ and piano keys on ‘Carried Home’.

Purchased

2010, a time when I used to spend all my lunch hours in Fopp. The 2CD collection comes in a pretty fold out box.

Iron and Wine - Track

More like this

A show for La Blogotheque

A KEXP interview from 2009. The guy has an insanely good beard.

NPR Tiny Desk Concert – because I love these

The Weekend Edition

403798_10151907910955607_684252413_n

AroarA

AroarA is the work of husband and wife musicians Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene) and chanteuse Aerial Engle, if you’re curious about appearance the cute pair are permanently dancing on their website. Their affectionate In the Pines EP recently featured on famous music blog Said the Gramophone and I’ve since discovered the duo have been on the SXSW trail this year. Very well made, stirring music which I’d bet you’ll like.

Jason Molina

Hugely sad news that lauded singer songwriter died at only 39 this week, personally I wasn’t that familiar with his material but have since been hearing some beautiful songs. You can stream his entire back catalogue for a limited time at http://live.magnoliaelectricco.com

Damien Jurado – Yuma Arizona

This is an older song from Damien Jurado, Yuma Arizona. I’m putting it on here for my very good friends who are getting married today (in a matter of hours I’ll be sipping champers in their honour) because it’s really, really beautiful.

One for The Week…Low

This week I rediscovered some slightly cumbersome Sennheiser headphones I bought about ten years ago and was too self conscious to wear on the street plugged in to my ‘portable CD player’. The quality, perhaps therefore due to restricted use, is still great and the first thing I listened to on them was the new Low album, The Invisible Way.

1018_521378574552830_1227119840_n

You need to know

It’s the tenth album in twenty years from the Sub Pop signed Low, who hail from a place called Duluth Minnesota. An emotional, often poignant journey based on writing and recording strong, beautiful songs I’d possibly say it trumps all of the others. We’ll see how it stands the test of time.

Top Tracks

‘So Blue’ is absolutely beautiful – listen!

The previously released ‘Just Make it Stop’ and closer ‘On Our Knees’ are more of my favourites.

Listen when

You have time, as soon as you have time in fact.

Arbitrary Add

For a sporadic history read an interview from 1996 here, a site which has lots more random press on the band.

It was also the year that Low’s SXSW performance was overpowered by a neighbouring hardcore band, Ramones fans rioted in Argentina after queueing overnight for free tickets falsely promised by Coke a Cola and  David Bowie’s ‘Telling Lies’ was the first song to be released as a digital single.

Rating

As I only feature music I generally like I’ve decided rating releases is pointless. It has a mighty Play a Song For Me seal of approval!

Songs for Your Soul

As we hurtle towards the end of the year I’ve been getting returning to listen to things I really loved over the last twelve months. It’s not quite a best of list as I find it hard to narrow things down that far, rather just a rundown of great songs…Merry Christmas Eve!

 Scottish & Sublime

Meursault – Dull Spark/Flittin’

These tracks are both from Neil Pennycook’s alternative folk band Meursault’s stunning 2012 album Something For the Weakened. Amongst a number of accolades it’s received it just topped the Scottish BAMS, an award set up by the great Peenko blog and voted for by Scottish bloggers including me, you can read the full list of winners here.

 

Lament For a Teenage Millionaire

 

Adam StaffordVanishing Tanks/Russian Glass 

Both of the these tracks from Falkirk musician Adam Stafford’s spilt single, released on independent label Gerry Loves Records are so well crafted I’ve listened to them many times.

 

Human Don’t Be Angry –  1985 

I bought Malcolm Middleton’s first Human Don’t Be Angry album on CD in Inverness, because it was playing in the shop and even though I had it on download it sounded too good not to own. Stunning instrumental guitar…

 

Three Blind Wolves – Sound of The Storm 

Having first seen Glasgow four piece Three Blind Wolves live in May, I then listened to their joyous, country rooted album ‘Sound of the Storm’ on repeat for many weeks after.

Dream A Little Dream Pop For Me

Tennis – It All Feels The Same 

Husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley released ‘Young and Old’ in February, blissful sugar pop to make you happy.

Beach House – Myth

The first track which was released from the band’s album Bloom, it’s a beauty.

New American Idols

Sharon Van Etten – Leonard

An album which is amongst the best releases of the year (and has indeed appeared near the top of many tastemaker album lists) US singer-songwriter Van Etten’s Tramp is sublime. This is the video for ‘Leonard’…get to listening!

Loch LomondWhite Dresses

The most poignant and unusual kind of chamber folk from the Oregon ensemble Loch Lomond, this is the title track from a European EP produced exclusively for Chemikal Underground. It’s a tearjerker.

 

Father John MistyHollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

For ex Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tilman his 2012 album ‘Fear Fun’ is likely to define the point where people had begun to listen to his solo work. This is the first track I heard from it…

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa

Watch this video and I’d defy you not fall in love with Damien Jurado’s latest record.

 Magical Music

The Dirty Three – Towards The Low Sun

Australian prog-instrumental rock trio The Dirty Three just seem to get better and more distinctive, their quivering instruments conjuring a rugged, turbulent landscape.

 

The Tallest Man  on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

If you like properly old fashioned song writing, this release from Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson is just plain good.

 

Francois Atlas & The Mountains – Gold Mountain (Slow Club Cover)

Two excellent bands, one reworked song.

Discovered Discoveries

For non regular readers Play a Song For Me is mostly about asking musicians and people involved in music for their suggestions on something which is great, new or rare. Of all the great submissions I’ve had this year there were a couple which really stuck out for me, I hope if you haven’t heard them already please click on the link!

John Knox Sex Club: Submitted by The Last Battle

Six track ‘album’ Raise Ravens came out from the Glasgow folk-rockers in September, check it out….

Tommy Johnson: Submitted by Adam Stafford 

Blues legend Tommy Johnson, whose songs are timeless.

Miss Irenie Rose: Submitted by Rachel Sermanni 

A young, supremely talented Scottish singer

If You Listen To Something This Week…Make it Festive

blog 2

If there is one thing it easy to love, it’s the festive season. I’ve been listening to Christmas songs since November, the kind that fill you with a want for snow, to be curled up by a roaring fire eating a mince pie, jingling some bells or wearing a Christmas jumper. Scottish artists seem to move towards the more gloomy and contemptuous at this time of year, it’s oddly more acceptable to be honest about how you hate someone/thing if it has a festive tinkle. Cue a round of up new discoveries, old classics and a playlist for your listening pleasure…

Olive Grove Records – Christmas Sampler

The Scottish label’s charity EP, which features the hymnal ‘As a Child I Awoke’ from Jo Mango, a loveable cover of the Muppets ‘One More Sleep Til Christmas’ courtesy of Randolph’s Leap and the first original festive songs from the The Son(s) – you’ll see what I mean about contemptuous – ‘Christmas Song’ and State Broadcasters‘ ‘Wounded Waxing.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Dawn McCarthy – Christmas Eve Will Kill You

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s (aka Will Oldham’s) first Christmas song with long time collaborator Dawn McCarthy, despite it’s troubling title it’s filled with nostalgia and sentiment. It’s also the first Everly Brothers cover from the duo, who are releasing a whole set entitled What the Brothers Sang next year.

Which also reminds me…this song of theirs ‘Dreams’ might not technically be a Christmas number but it’s a classic.

William Bell – Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday 

A timeless and highly underplayed track from soul legend William Bell, this is one of the best Christmas songs you’ll ever listen to.

The Killers – Feel it in My Bones 

The latest of their annual Christmas singles it sounds similar to what you may have heard before…I like it anyway. Featuring Las Vegas based singer Ryan Pardey as Bad Santa the video is an absolute eighties throwback, cue dry ice and a weird Santa cackle…

MogwaiChristmas Song

This came out a long while ago, but I only just heard it. Like most of Mogwai’s material it’s an extraordinarily beautiful instrumental which you can sink right in to.

Check out NPR Music’s Jingle Jams for much more, below you’ll find a playlist featuring most of the above plus some old and out and out favourites. Embed it, share it, play it at a party – Merry Christmas!

Play Me…Pete RG

Pete+RG+IMG_8845++Version+2

‘Still Here’ is a new track from American singer-songwriter Pete RG, previously the frontman of 90s indie band Last December. A mellow and thoughtful track fronted by his distinctive voice Pete pegs his inspiration for the track as ‘my recognition that storms must be weathered and resentment relinquished for any relationship to last and grow.  And, to do so is both strengthening and liberating.’ Listen below…