Category Archives: Music

The Stormy Seas Play…Alasdair Roberts

Ok folks, I won’t beat about the bush on this one – I love Edinburgh’s The Stormy Seas. Their first album Of Rust and Loss was released in November 2011, I believe it to be something of a modern day maritime marvel. It’s the kind of music you’ll like more the more you listen to it, sea shanty like tunes which are refreshingly original. They also have a little more lyrical weight and musical play than your average folkish fodder.

Stormy drummer Graeme shared Alasdair Roberts Spoils, with this story…

Five years ago I wasn’t playing in a band, hadn’t for a while and generally saw playing music as something consigned to the past. I was enticed along to St Paul’s Church one Friday night to hear some fellow play what was sold to me as ‘really good folky stuff’. I went along, more out of curiosity about the set-up than anything else – bring your own bottle gigs in churches was a new one on me. I’m glad I went. That fellow was Alasdair Roberts and within a few months I was back in a band and as enthusiastic about playing as I had been at fifteen.

In 2008 Alasdair Roberts released Spoils. I bought it the day it came out and to this day, not a fortnight has gone by when I haven’t listened to it in it’s entirety. It’s a rare thing for me to find an album, or any piece of art for that matter, which seems to bleed beyond it’s medium in the way Spoils does. It evokes cinema, in particular, ‘You Muses Assist’ and ‘Ned Ludd’s Rant (For a World Rebarbarised)’ conjures the spirit of Bill Douglas’ ‘Comrades’. The lyrics are poem-like in their precision and on each listen at least a line or two will always astound me.

The music itself is at once antiquated and modernist – like aural Art Nouveau – and really does sound quite like nothing else (that has happened upon my ears at least). Baroque and 19th century guitars sit atop whistling and buzzing synths, while the drumming is free and idiosyncratic. This strange, timeless quality, and the fact that I hear the most simple and sparse sections with the same reverence and amazement as the more intricate passages creates a multiplicity that serves to support the lyrical themes. The opening track, The Flyting of Grief and Joy (Eternal Return) is something of a mission statement in it’s allusion to reincarnation and the cyclic nature of existence; themes repeated and expanded upon throughout Spoils. Though the album is dealing with pretty esoteric theological musings, the tone is never churchy or preachy or smug. Though it is hallucinatory in it’s shifting, multi-faceted deceptiveness, a psychedelic freak out this is not. It is, despite what I’ve said here, a comparatively light and easy listen. You may even get a giggle at the absurd ‘Unyoked Oxen Turn’.

Quite how influential Alasdair Roberts has been on the sound of The Stormy Seas, I couldn’t say, though I can say that hearing an album like this makes me sure I want to keep making music for as long as I can.

Listen to The Stormy Seas, Of Rust and Loss here. Highlights including the sweeping Are You My Maker and thundering Morbid Desires.

Call to Mind are playing…Pandit

Call to Mind are, if you don’t already know them, simply worth checking out. The Glasgow based four piece have been making self-tagged ‘glacial pop’ for several years, an atmospheric blend of electronic sounds and sultry vocals. Their debut LP is due out in 2012.

Martin from the band suggested a track from Pandit, a gem of a discovery and incidentally perfect Sunday morning listening.

Pandit- Kathryn My Love

Pandit is Lance Smith from Lumberton in Texas. He records everything from his home studio. His ‘Steady Nerves and a Strong Heart’ EP is rather lovely.

Listen to the Latest Call to Mind EP below, or downloaded it at Bandcamp for free!

Mike Nisbet Plays…Townes Van Zandt

I first discovered singer-songwriter Mike Nisbet through his debut album Vagrant, which if you haven’t heard is often poignant, sometimes catchy and ultimately one to remember. Mike’s suggestion was (for me) like rifling through a stack of old records and choosing one a great one by chance: American Country-folk singer Townes Van Zandt. I’ll leave it to him to tell you more…

Townes Van Zandt‘Townes Van Zandt’

This is one of my favourite albums, released on 1969 i guess it’s a ‘classic’. Songs of a man telling it straight, how he’s feeling about lovers, life and passing of time. It’s like a friend you can return to when you need them, someone who’ll take you under their arm and say ‘it’s ok man, lets have a whisky, and I’ll tell you a story about that’

The album soars from from beautiful highs to cut throat lows, with lines like ‘I tried to hide the pain / bought some wine and hopped a train / well it’s easier than waitin’ around to die’ from the track Waitin’ Around To Die, making you think ‘what’s this all about?’ But the sweetness of Colorado Girl reminds you why the world is beautiful. ‘the promise in her smile / shames the mountains tall /she can bring the sun shining/ and tell the rain to fall’

A man who knew him well, Steve Earle, once said ‘Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that’ and I’d stand there with him.

Listen to the title track from Mike’s album here…

The Son(s) Play…Tim Weary and Richard Swift

The Son(s) recommend Richard Swift and Tim Weary

I first heard of The Son(s) late last year when they got in touch with me via soundcloud for my tumblr site – one of those days that made me glad to be writing about music. The track sent was Underneath The Arbor, a fragile, captivating and beautiful song: in short an absolute gem of a discovery. As musicians go, K.P. son also couldn’t be nicer, hence why I asked them to give me a musical suggestion…

Play a Song for Me: The Son(s)!

“I’ve been listening to a lot of new music so far this year; RM Hubbert’s new album, Maraqopa by Damien Jurado and Heart Heart and the Simple Folk radio session by Withered Hand. But two songs which have been stuck in my head almost constantly are:

Looking Back I Should Have Been Home More by Richard Swift (who also had a large hand in Maraqopa) which is a song from some years back…

Begin Again by Tim Weary (of The Weary Band) which is on their new album (but I like this version slightly better).”

The Son(s) new EP Leviathan is released on 7th May via Olive Grove Records.