Tag Archives: folk

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

Crushing On: Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark

Like most music fans I listen to a lot of new things. Some of it’s understated, some of it’s try hard, some of it sounds like that band you loved ten years ago, some of it’s great, memorable or beautiful and of course ends up here.

Rarely does it happen that I love something new instantly. Yesterday I heard a song by Dark Dark Dark on the radio and it torpedoed right into me, demanding to be listened to. I’ve discovered they are from Minneapolis, have a massive following (oops, late to the party) and are also described as a ‘folk band’. For me the music goes much deeper, it quivers with an orchestral intensity that you don’t tend to encounter in the genre and proves the accordion is an excellent instrument. In terms of lyrics they clicked with me, I get the songs and the songs get me.

I’ve now listened to their entire back catalogue, which feels like journeying through a black and white gypsy circus. Check out album Who Needs Who below, hope you enjoy.

I like a lot of music but I love this.

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

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.

LL-2013

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

✪✪✪✪

Arran Arctic Plays…Buffy Sainte-Marie

With the catchy, winter appropriate alias of Arran Arctic ‘D.I.Y. pop, folk and electronica’ musician Arran Southall is a man who hails from Northern Ireland and now lives in Edinburgh. He contacted me with his new album, titled Like Lovers, a lovely collection of delicate, experimental tracks often with an orchestral depth, which will capture your attention.

You can stream it in full the bottom of this post, first he’ll tell you about a classic influence and a little piece of musical history…

The Artist: Buffy Sainte-Marie

The Album: Illuminations 

Not On Vinyl

I first came across Buffy Sainte-Marie and her album Illuminations on Stuart Maconie’s great BBC 6 Music Show The Freak Show (the best weird and wonderful music you’ll find on a weekly basis) and I was blown away by her cover of Leonard Cohen’s God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot. I got my spade out and dug a little deeper into her history and back catalogue. And she’s just amazing! Her career spans 5 decades, she’s won an Oscar and she even appeared on Sesame Street for a while!

Illuminations is a departure from her usual folk, soul and rock output and actually alienated a number of her fans when it came out in 1969. The record sees Sainte-Marie electronically manipulating both her guitar and vocals to create a sparsely populated eerie landscape. 

But there are also a number of rocky foot stampers such as ‘He’s a Keeper of the Fire‘, which have caused some to retrospectively christen the album the first “goth” record!

I just love this album and have championed it before on the excellent blog Scots Whay Hae!. It’s appeal is not only because of the fantastic tunes but also because of the balls it must have taken to make and put out there. Everyone needs a bit of Buffy Sainte-Marie in their lives.

About-Image

Arran’s album Like Lovers can be streamed and purchased on his bandcamp, his personable and playful website – from which I pinched the above illustration – is also well worth checking out. Choral title track ‘Like Lovers’ is a highlight, fusing a boy/girl vocal with an almost cinematic soundscape, there’s lots of tinkling goodness in the fleeting ‘Wound’ and climatic  lullaby ‘Slumber’.

A low key, monochromatic video for bewitching earworm ‘Covers’….

 

 

If you listen to one thing this week…make it a Tiny Desk Concert

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…

Chris Bathgate

Charming tunes which are catching, orchestral violin and a foot-stomping delivery – he may hail from Michigan but Scotland’s threaded through.

 

Dirty Three 

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.

Yann Tiersen 

I discovered this quite by accident. Win.

A few other good places to find new artists are Seattle station KEXP, The Guardian’s column New Band of the Day and Indie Darkroom.…so go now and find music that you love.  Go now.