This is little Play a Song For Me’s 100th wordpress post! A tiny figure for some, for me an occasion akin to getting an ice cream on a sunny day.
For those of you who are new to the blog musicians I discover share suggestions of new, rare and important artists/songs/albums. Along the way other things have also evolved – I invent sporadic new features (for the last month I’ve been posting a happy song every day), review new material and spraff on about new discoveries. Other folks stories are at the heart of why I’ve kept up the writing, I always love reading submissions and love to see that people still reading them.
End ramble: to celebrate and in case you missed them here are some great picks. Click the links to take you to the full articles and music!
The first ever post I received was from Karl of The Son(s), whose music is beautiful.
I’m slightly ashamed to say I’d never heard of Townes Van Zandt before this post from Mike, who himself is supremely talented. Check out the full read here.
A personal story you’ll remember, a blues record you’ll love. Adam has a new album coming out really soon and it’s a beauty. Keep your eye on Song By Toad for more.
Without a doubt my favourite picture submitted, Glasgow’s Olympic Swimmers wrote a beautiful piece on Richard Youngs.
A close contender in the picture stakes, Human Pyramids shared a love of the glacial Mum.
The tragic story of The Bhundu Boys, retold by Glasgow’s State Broadcasters.
Have a root around for many more great things in the friends and contributors section. Listen, discover, enjoy.
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.
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.
Ethereal video from Brazilian cellist and singer Dom La Nena, No Meu Pais, meaning ‘my country’ or ‘myself’. It’s from her newly released album Ela, which came to my attention via an Other Music Review (their mailers are great for looking at new releases). On first listen the songs, sung in Spanish and Portuguese are wistful, meaningful and quite simply beautiful.
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I discovered NPR (National Public Radio) Tiny Desk Concerts around the time I shifted from just reviewing gigs and records to writing this here blog, and – driven by a whimsical ambition to listen to as much as possible – was trying to sift through mags and media. Held at the incredibly cool desk of some chap called Bob Boilen I expect the slot’s probably incredibly well known, I’ve just come to know it as a good place to look now and again for artists I haven’t heard of. The most recent find was a session from singer songwriter Chris Bathgate (a last minute addition to Matchstick Maker’s list, see last post for more), leading to this round up of some great sessions…
Charming tunes which are catching, orchestral violin and a foot-stomping delivery – he may hail from Michigan but Scotland’s threaded through.
Crashing drums, balkan violin and a yelping vocal from the band’s thrusting lead singer – what’s not to love?
The Tallest Man on Earth
Songs to sink right into.
I discovered this quite by accident. Win.
State Broadcasters are a six-piece band from Glasgow who I’ve only come to know in the last year or so…
…although they actually first formed first back in 2004. Released on the fairly wonderful Scottish label Olive Grove Records the band’s newly released album Ghosts We Must Carry is the type of music you’ll want to sink right in to, dusky voices, melodic strings and quite simply endearing songs.
Following a Play a Song For Me plea Pete from the band was kind enough to share a musical memory with us…
The Artist: The Bhundu Boys
The Album: Shabini
When I was young our dad used to play us The Bhundu Boys in the car. They’re a band from Zimbabwe who play this beautiful jangly pop music that is about as catchy as anything you’ll ever hear. Their guitar lines manage to be both intricate and simple at the same time, and their vocal harmonies are gorgeous. John Peel was a huge fan – there’s a lovely story Andy Kershaw has about them going to see a Bhundu Boys gig and Peel crying through the whole show because he thought it was so wonderful. I think hearing their music has had a massive influence on the way I make and enjoy music: I love a major key, and sunny jangly pop songs. I’m pretty sure my love of The Smiths and The Beach Boys can be traced back to hearing the Bhundus in the car when I was 4.
The story of the band is extremely sad. Their early records are full of exuberance and celebrate a bright and optimistic future for Zimbabwe, – when Mugabe took control of the country after the civil war he was seen as a good leader, someone who would take the country forward. But as time passed parallels can be drawn between Zimbabwe and the band themselves. Most of the original Bhundu Boys lineup are now dead – the lead singer committed suicide, and 3 others died of AIDS related illness. The only founder member still performing is the guitarist Rise Kagona, who now lives near Edinburgh. He hasn’t been able to return to Zimbabwe for years and doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as he deserves for his music – he’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen and if there were any justice would be playing huge sold out rooms. I’d urge you to go and see him play – it’s a totally joyous way to spend an evening.
The thing I personally love most about Pete’s suggestion is that I doubt I’d have thought of picking up this record and it’s quite far away from what I’ve fallen in the pattern of listening to, but I love how vibrant and sunshiney the songs feel and hear echoes of their influence in work by many other artists. As a random aside also read that they labelled their style ‘jit’, love the word and being a massive fan of watching performances on vintage telly, thought you might enjoy this treasure
Here’s a wee bit of Rise Kagona for good measure, playing with Scottish musician Doug Veitch. I also found a great Guardian interview
As for State Broadcasters you can stream their second full length album below, purchase from their bandcamp and check them out all over the wonder woven internet. Ghosts We Must Carry highlights include comfort laden single ‘Trespassers’, the delicately melodic ‘The Only One’ and opener ‘The Only Way Home’.