Tag Archives: folk

Playing with Matches

Music fans: you are in for a treat. Recently I was sent an EP from mysterious musician Matchsticker Maker, containing three low-fi songs which are entirely bewitching.  Here he talks about four treasured musicians, just make sure you get to the bottom…

Matchstick Maker Plays…

Stanley

A band from Aberdeen that I know almost nothing about and have never seen live, but whose album “Animals With Amazing Disguises” is incredible. It’s some of the most invigorating and exciting sounds I’ve heard in ages, plus the guy’s voice is heart-stoppingly rich. Check out the album opener “Join Hands” and try to get your vocal chords around the top notes near the end. 
Late one night in May I was driving in the middle of nowhere way up North, with a late sunset burning on the horizon, I switched on the radio right in the middle of that song “Join Hands”. I’d never heard it before, didn’t know who the band was but I genuinely had to stop the car when I heard that melody, and then it turned out to be a live session! Fearless vocals, mind blown. Then they did a brilliant Goldfrapp cover.
(I love this live version)

 

Jonnie Common

I somehow stumbled across the album “Master Of None” just as it came out which is quite rare for me, but I immediately loved it and have pretty much played the vinyl to scratch-laden death since. It’s just great catchy, witty and interesting songs, the track “Hand-Hand” contains the lyric “I can’t skateboard to save my life, but I like to imagine what kind of bizarre scenario might involve me having to do so”… you can’t beat that…  

I was playing at the Jura Festival a few weeks ago and on the Sunday morning someone mentioned that night’s gig involved “Jonnie-something-or-other”. I managed to sneak in to see his set and it was even better than I’d imagined, in a village hall next to the distillery, tiny crowd, cabaret seating, candles, one man and an omni-chord – as far as pleasant surprises go it was way up there. If you’ve got any sense at all, go and see him live.

 

Dead Man’s Waltz

A folk-noir band from Skye. I’ve seen a few great live shows from these guys but the most memorable was when I supported their album launch during a stormy October night in an old stone barn on Skye, a perfect setting for their bleak and majestic soundtrack… (some poetic license and/or altered perception might have influenced that memory a bit but it’s definitely fairly accurate.) 

 

Check out the video for “Swings and Roundabouts”
and Emmeline…

and find their album here

Ben Sollee

I’m amazed he isn’t far more well-known than he is. He’s an American cello-playing singer-songwriter from Kentucky, which is different, and his songwriting is charmingly eclectic & just fantastic. He’s just released his fourth album but I first heard him when a friend played me the song “Panning For Gold” a year or so ago from his 2008 album “Learning to Bend”. The whole idea of the song is beautiful (imagining god as an old man with dementia) and musically it’s heart breakingly intimate.

 

 

Of them all of those above I find Mr Sollee a standout, beautiful song.

And don’t forget to check out the Matchsticker Maker EP right here” The songs were bubbling around in my subconscious for a wee while so, while a storm whipped up outside, I sat by the stove in my wee cottage and recorded them with one mic and a battered old guitar I was given about 10 years ago.” In particular I find Evergreen to be a timeless, beautiful piece of music.

 

 

Advertisements

State Broadcasters Play…The Bhundu Boys

State Broadcasters are a six-piece band from Glasgow who I’ve only come to know in the last year or so…

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/319435_341047375976874_1351713165_n.jpg

…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’.

Woodenbox Play…One Day as a Lion

Howdy music fans! If it’s your first time here Play a Song for Me is a place where great musicians suggest great music…

Today it comes from Glasgow/Edinburgh based Woodenbox, a folk/rock collective who are also one of the best live bands around. If you don’t believe me go to a show, the music is loud and infectious and people will be dancing.  Having seen them at a couple of festivals their album Home and The Wild Hunt reminds me of summer, great times kicking back in the sunshine.

So let’s serve up a musical treat, a track from the mighty One Day as a Lion, courtesy of drummer Nick…

Play me…One Day as a Lion 

Image

I’m a huge fan of Rage Against the Machine, let’s face it they are fucking awesome. But that chapter of history is over now. Whilst Tim Tom and Brad went on to form Audioslave with Chris Cornell, front man Zack appeared to have gone into musical hiding. He collaborated with DJ shadow some years back, and also with Roni Size… both sounded awesome. But I was most excited when I stumbled upon this little cracker. Featuring John Theodore from The Mars Volta, whom I regard as one of the most exciting drummers around these days…its just a great combination. Dirty pounding drums, a fender rhodes plugged into a marshall amp, and Zack’s trademark vocal style… I love it.

It’s better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb

Woodenbox release a new six track EP ‘The Vanishing Act’ on 4th June and here’s a taster…

Also check out the single ‘Everyone Has a Price’, a darkly tinged circus flavoured affair.

Check out http://www.wdnbx.com/ for details of where you can catch the band live.

On Rotation…The Phantom Band

I started to accept that I’m actually an insomniac when I read a collection of short stories on the topic – aptly called Bedlam – and a writer commented that with proper sleep she never would have penned a word. So hello the middle of night/morning, I’m listening to The Phantom Band’s 2009 album Checkmate Savage.

I can’t remember when and where I got the album, have a feeling it was in Avalanche Records on the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. I can remember I went backwards and discovered their second album, The Wants, first.

On this one I utterly adore Island, it still gives me goosebumps and could perhaps feature within my greatest songs of all time. There’s a sailing rhythm to the likes of Throwing Bones and I madly want to sing along to The Howling, it’s so effortlessly random. Not to like overhype it or anything, but in my book the Glasgow band’s musical work is innovative, original and built to last. Live, or relive the album

J