Category Archives: folk

Listen Up! Country Folk

The Weather Station are a band I became aware of, well about five minutes ago. I really like them. It might be fuelled by the fact that I am obssessed with Nashville. Like really. It’s that kind of country ballad, guitars on the veranda, type of loveliness.

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Listen Up! Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen

American singer-songwriter Angel Olsen is an artist I heard of last year through her 2012 release Half Way Home. New album Burn Your Fire For No Witness is one of the best records I’ve stumbled on in a long time: it begs to be listened to all the way through and is wholly addictive. I’ve  listened to it over and over again – it makes you want to even though you know you shouldn’t because  eventually you might ruin it for yourself.

Olsen’s voice goes from honeyed to wild, fierce and rasping, her lyrics project straightforward truths, her musicianship is crafted and poignant. Like all great music emotions –  heartache, loneliness, desperation, anger and serenity – ring right through it.

Burn Your Fire For No Witness a subtly dazzling collection of songs with a rare and beautiful kind of timelessness. Befriend them.

Listen to the album now via NPR, it will be released through Jagjaguwar.

Quickbeam play…AC Acoustics

Glasgow quartet Quickbeam are a band I’ve followed for over a year now, after first seeing them play some stunning music – the dreamy ‘Seven Hundred Birds’ springs to mind – at a gig near Inverness. Describing themselves atmospheric/cinematic, their music is immersive, delicate and beautiful. They are on the cusp of releasing a beauty of a debut album, more on that below.

Guitarist and singer Andrew Thomson shares a musical treasure of his own, Scottish indie rock band AC Acoustics, for the Play a Song For Me archives.

Ac Acoustics

Quickbeam Play AC Acoustics – She Kills For Kicks 

There are many things that appeal to me about this track. I’m a sucker for its relentless simplicity and its unforgiving repetition of the vocal, string and drum phrases. There is also an overriding dark, almost ghostly atmospheric that is so apparent in a lot of their work. Its a track that I always feel should have been massive. AC Acoustics always had a reputation of being this incredibly unlucky band when it came to the music industry. Maybe so, but ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is a triumph as far as I’m concerned. It’s an anthem, albeit a dark one, but one that I often put on and never tire of. This is a band that I don’t want to be forgotten.

 I always admired Paul Campions lyrical style. It’s incredibly poetic, very often obscure and always flows beautifully. Equally it has a steam roller like unrelenting, unstoppable force that holds your ear and doesn’t let you turn away. ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is a great example of this. It just doesn’t stop, it wont allow it. Each verse joins with the previous through repetition of the last line which works perfectly.

 

For me, ‘She Kills For Kicks’ is the highlight of a wonderfully diverse and undoubtedly accomplished album. I always come back to this album and in particular this track. Although it is now around thirteen years old, and the band are long since split up, it still sounds so current. As does the whole album. Please come back AC Acoustics, for one last encore.

Quickbeam’s self titled album comes out on June 3rd, through Scottish label Comets and Cartwheels. Check out a sampler, new single ‘Immersed’ and  track I mentioned up there, ‘Seven Hundred Birds’.

For more visit the band here

The Weekend Edition

It’s officially Spring! According to the clocks anyhow, we’ve lost our obligatory hour. Although it’s been freezing – to your bones – cold the sun’s out, so there’s progress.  Some songs I found that will make you feel you are on the cusp of summer.

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Mikal Cronin – Weight

Surf pop track from American singer songwriter Mikal Cronin, who I discovered today. His album (nice artwork) MCII comes out this May on Merge Records, keep an eye out.

Jovanotti – Bella

I know absolutely noting about this artist, but I love his enthusiasm. In the absence of a more technical description it’ll make you’re on holiday, in a really fun bar.

 

Phosphorescent – Sun Arising/It’s Hard to Be Humble

The blissed out closer to Phosphorescent’s album Muchado, Bon Iver with power. It’s followed by a riot of an older, strongly country influenced track, the opener to the previous release Here’s To Taking It Easy. If you don’t know it check out both albums.

 

 

From My Shelf: Bert Jansch

Bert Jansch

I’ve been on a ban from buying CDs. I know it shouldn’t really matter. You can get pretty much anything through Spotify (though increasingly considered the devil’s work by many) and the plastic little cases AREN’T VINYL but I’ve never had a record player. I really miss picking my way through random albums in a shop.  Therefore I’ve decided to revisit the music I have,  thinking maybe you’ll still discover something you’ve never heard of, or might want to revisit.

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First up is an album from one of the most incredible Scottish guitarists of all time, the late Bert Jansch. His album Black Swan was released in 2006 and features Beth Orton on three tracks. Personally I’d forgotten about this really lovely CD, a contemplative and accomplished collection which easily  rubs shoulders with more famous contemporaries like Neil Young. Listen to the hazy and pretty ‘A Woman Like You’ instrumental ‘Magdalina’s Dance’ and duet ‘Watch the Stars’.

Purchased

In 2008 from FOPP on Rose Street Edinburgh. The album cost £3 which is why I bought it, an absolute bargain. It comes inside a paper sleeve, a satisfying addition. I wholeheartedly miss FOPP, f there was something I wanted I’d never leave that shop with fewer than four CDs at a time – plus a two buck novel for good measure.

More Like This

An article from The New Yorker published atfter Jansch’s death in 2011

A performance of four live numbers for the telly, 1975

A beautiful song. Full Stop.

Unlike his solo material Pentangle, Jansch’s band, verges on too traditionally Scottish for my personal taste but if you’re not from here you might feel differently. In any case this is worth listening to for the guitar alone.

A couple of tracks from The River Sessions, a most excellent album recorded in the seventies at City Hall, Glasgow.

The Weekend Edition

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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.

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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!

One For The Week: Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond: Dresses
Loch Lomond: Dresses

Loch Lomond are an ensemble I’ve featured before, they hail from Portland, Oregon and are makers of a unique breed of chamber folk. Their latest LP, the illustrious Dresses, is one I whole heartedly encourage you to cherish.

You Need To Know…

A dark and slick progression from Little Me Will Start a Storm the new album is an extension of their touring White Dresses EP, recorded for the band’s UK label Chemikal Underground and the band recently toured Europe. It’s rare and beautiful, haunting and mellifluous, the type of music which will spin inside your head, in only a good way. The enigmatic Ritchie Gray fronts most of tracks with an evocative vocal, often bound with choral backing, lilting harmonies and well strung together melodies.

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Top Tracks…

Gems from the original EP include ‘Kicking with Your Feet’ and fondly written closer ‘Black Dresses’, wonderful songs which don’t tire themselves out. On the new side of things the choral ‘The Wedding’ builds in substantial vocal curves and orchestral strings, there’s  wanderlust in ‘Virgin Mountain’, which spins in capturing melodies and ‘Spray Painted Drums’ brings an offbeat optimism.

Two echoing instrumentals ‘1000 Drums’ and ‘1000 Lakes’ punctuate the record with a considered, peaceful reflection.

Listen When…

You aren’t on the verge of tears but ready for some deep thinking, considering the world and listening to beautiful, unusual music.

Rating

✪✪✪✪

One for the Week…Rick Redbeard

No Selfish Heart
No Selfish Heart

I waaaaay late in posting this, but as the album itself took eight years to complete I figure you can forgive my current blogging pace (akin to that of a tortoise’s steps). I first heard Rick Redbeard‘s album No Selfish Heart in December, it already reminds me of Scottish winters and the kind of lamentable snowfall that covered Edinburgh in waves.

Released with the monochrome artwork above last month I believe it’s had much acclaim already and it’s also on one of my favourite Scottish labels, Chemikal Underground.

You Need To Know

It’s the first solo LP from Phantom Band frontman Rick Anthony, a rich collection of mostly love songs, full of emotion, wise words and discovery. Sounding like a refresh of old celtic ballads it’s often thankfully simple his deep, distinctive vocal and moving lyrics are commendable.

Top Tracks

  • Kelvingrove –  originally a folk song which Rick learnt along the way, his version is a love song like nothing I’ve ever heard, plush violin meets distinctive Scottish songcraft
  • Now We’re Dancing – originally released on a spilt single with Adam Stafford it’s a clickety, wry beauty
  • Wildlove – Like a lullaby, it will raise a smile
  • No Selfish Heart – This could be my most favoured track on the album, it feels fresh and poignant plus I love the tune.

Listen when…

You’re in need of something pretty, at the coast on a chilly day or sitting my the fire in a log cabin (as we all do of an evening).

Rating

✪✪✪✪