Hi folks, it’s time for me to post about a great new EP that was in my inbox today. As I’ve said before, I’m surprised how much submissions are still coming in every day, but this one really stands out. I’m talking about the debut release from Dutch folk singer-songwriter Kashmere Hakim which goes by the name The Hillsinger EP and which was released only two days ago. What makes this EP special isn’t its creativity or its experiments – it’s the other way around: the pure and straight-forward character is what makes it special. It shows that you don’t need more than an acoustic guitar and your voice if you’re able to write good and honest songs. And this is exactly what Kashmere Hakim does: writing honest music that hooks you up and takes you on a little journey through the arts of expressing human emotions and telling everyday yet meaningful stories.
The EP comes loaded with six songs and a playtime of 16 minutes which is just right for this kind of release. Outstanding are the melodies of Kashmere’s songs, they are fragile, sometimes broken, but not over the top, rather dry but still compelling. The opener Free People is a good example for this kind of song-writing and it shows that this man surely got a feeling for writing music. This belief manifests itself even more if you take a listen to John Henry, the third track on the EP. The melodies here are different and much more melodic and simpler than they were in Free People – and still it seems that this (a little bit blusy) style just fits the story of the song and tops it off. The free downloadable track Foreign Worker really sums up the overall picture I got of the EP with its soft melodies and its calm atmosphere. If you like this track I’m most certainly sure you’ll like the other ones too. Among the straight acoustic guitar and voice arrangements, there are some strings here and there, especially in the brilliant Grandparents House. This addition really benefits the songs and I’m convinced that there will be much more great music from Kashmere Hakim in the future if he’s able to keep up with this high quality work. If you want one of the 500 copies of the EP, just write an e-mail to Kashmere (email@example.com) or contatct him via his MySpace profile. A digital version of the EP will be available soon. Fine acoustic folk!
Right after the great news concerning the new Handsome Family compilation, I’m proud to announce to you the new Chatham County Line album which goes by the name Wildwood. I have the feeling that Chatham County Line is a much underappreciated band and I hope their new release will give them some more attention (btw it’s their fifth full length, check out the others too, they are great!). You can pre-order Wildwoodright here and every pre-order gets an exclusive MP3 track extra + if you are one of the first fifty buyers, you get a special keychain modeled after the microphone stand the band regularly uses. So, if you’re curious what this microphone stand looks like or if you’re perhaps interested in the music, yeah…, you really should check out this nice video of the song Crop Comes In. For me it’s just perfect.
I think this should’ve made you wanting to hear the rest of the album. And if this is true, you have one complete week to stream the whole thing to decide if, better: when, you want to buy your personal copy. So, don’t wait and get this album stream on: GET IT ON!
Hello dear CFM readers. I know that it seems that CFM disappeared from the blogosphere, but let me tell you that this is clearly not the case. It’s true that I don’t write much right now, infact I barely write anything at all. But the circumstances have changed a bit and I just don’t feel like spending so much time blogging. This doesn’t mean that I’m not into folk anymore etc. – it just means that I’m currently not in the mood to write as much as I used to do. But I think there will be better blogging times again. I can’t tell when exactly, but right now I just want to finish my studies and then we’ll see what happens. Until then I just throw some articles up from time to time and I hope you girls and guys understand my decision.
I think I also have to spend one words on the massive submissions still coming in: Please understand that I don’t respond to all of your e-mails – this doesn’t mean any disrespect for I’m very thankful all of you good folks are still interested in CFM. I’m proud that I got such great readers and so many friendly and talented bands that keep up the true spirit of folk: being a big family. But enough with the sentiment.
I decided to write an article just now to share some recommendations with you I think of as elementary for 2010. Lots of them were mentioned on other blogs, but because I just got one of my orders delivered and a load full of CDs and LPs are lying in front of me, I think it is worth mentioning them again.
Let’s start with a new release from one of our favorite folk labes out there, it’s obvious, I’m talking about the new Yer Bird output. The digital only EP Payphone Patience by Ghosts I’ve Met is just the right thing you want to listen to while the season slowly transforms from spring to summer. Ghosts I’ve Met play as a full band (percussion, violin, guitar, bass, male and female singing) and I would describe their sound as an mixture between melancholy and hope. The strings deliver some good and thoughtful moments, the percussions and drums got a lot of drive at some points (Wall Of Water). The structure and the overall character reminds me strongly of indie folk with a little hint of folk rock here and there (but really, just a little bit). I for myself had to listen to the EP five or six times to realize the enormous potentials that this music shows and I’m very curious to hear more from this promising band – realy nice music and a real nice pick from Yer Bird. To order your MP3s just click this link and enjoy some wonderful music.
Next candidate in line is the Hoquiam self-titled debut LP. If you haven’t heard of Hoquiam yet, I recommend to read the article that was posted over at Slowcoustic some time ago. The band is a project of well known folkster Damien Jurado and his brother. They both reflected on their childhood and trnasformed these thoughts into wonderful music that ofen doesn’t need more than an acoustic guitar and voice and some percussions to be beautiful. But this reductionism doesn’t lead to boring or monotonous songs; all tracks are distinct and mostly tell very original stories. Somehow I think this is not the album you will listen to the whole day long, but I think every time you play the record you will see that the overall style could be described as the thing that makes folk folk. Simple instrumentation, lots of feeling and skill to write tracks that hook you while being honest. A very great, mostly dark, but not really melancholic folk album – like a good dry red wine. Click here for a physical copy (german record store) or here for MP3s.
Let’s proceed further from Canadian label Yer Bird and the two American bands Ghosts I’ve Met and Hoquiam right to the UK and to one of the loveliest releases this year. Personally I never have heard of Martha Tilston before her 2010 album Lucy And The Wolves, but now I realize that it is a shame not to know the name of this lady. Lucy And The Wolves is clearly one of those albums you will remember ever after. It’s sheer fascinating how easily Martha manages to pack such enormous creativity into 48 minutes. Some of the songs are true folk songs like the overwhelming tracks Lucy or Old Tom Cat, others are sung a capella accompanied by nothing else then a purling brook and the singing of the birds – wonderful. But still this doesn’t catch the the whole feeling of the album, you have to add a little bit of folk pop here and there and maybe a tiny bit of jazz pop. But, don’t get this wrong, this is one fine folk record and the mentioned genres must be seen as positive additions, not unnecessary pageantry. The difference between the extremes of this album can be heard by listening to the richly instrumnetated Wave Machine, the mentioned a capella Searching For Lambs and pure folk songs (in British tradition) like Lucy. I’m more than happy that I found Martha’s music and I highly recommend to listen to this fine, fine music if you are interested in folk music from the UK (and that you should be, my friend). Order your physical copy right here (sorry, found no other link…).
Old Man Ludecke – My Hands Are On Fire And Other Love Songs (via Black Hen Records, 2010)
Listen while reading:
The Rear Guard (from My Hands Are On Fire And Other Love Songs)
Caney Fork River (fromMy Hands Are On Fire And Other Love Songs)
After our little tour around the wolrd we move back to where we started, to Canada and there we find the hell of a musician I’m absolutely fell in love with (at least with his music), I’m talking about, yeah, maybe a sleeper I read about firstly at NxEW (sadly the article seems to be removed) and later at Herohill: nobody else than the absolutely stunning Old Man Ludecke who released his new album just a little bit more than a month ago. It’s called My Hands Are On Fire And Other Love Songs and it’s an gorgeous album of, ok, I don’t like the term, but I think Canadiana. In other words Old Man Ludecke is an excellent singer-songwriter who combines bluegrass and country with wonderful lyrics and just incredible moods. I don’t know what to say, but, besides the relatively liveless album title, the album itself is the heck of a record and without doubt some of the best music I listened to this year (and it was a very good year for folk music until now with still many promising releases to come). The banjo and acoustic melodies are like a ride through the wide lands of blessed Canada. And maybe this is a typical Canadian feeling: some loneliness combined with the touch of nature. I think this is what I can feel in those songs and I think if you listen to them you will think alike. The combination of casing after nothing and enjoying every second of it as well as the feeling of a need for love and community is just what this album is all about. Every single track tells a different story that belongs into this context. Clearly a must-have. Get it here.
Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It Easy (via Dead Oceans, 2010)
Listen while reading:
We’ll Be Here Soon (from Here’s To Taking It Easy)
The Mairmaid Parade (fromHere’s To Taking It Easy)
For our last station for today we take a trip back to the US and we meet and greet with Matthew Houck, the man behind Phosphorescent. I think every folkster already knows. And so this is not much of a surprise that I recommend the neweset output Here’s To Taking It Easy even though I have to admit that I didn’t liked Pride and To Willie too much. But what Matthew did with his newest record is simply fantastic. 44 minutes of wonderful country influenced folk pop with a good portion of psychedelic components and maybe one of the coolest album covers of the year. I don’t know exactly what makes this album so special, but I think it is the retro feeling of it. The music of Phosphorescent is strong and simultaneously retro – and retro isn’t used in the hip and cool sense of the word, but in the sense that his music sounds like an old forgotten classic in the genre. And because it isn’t an old and forgotten gem but a brand new 2010 release, you really should spend an ear or two to hopefully lose your heart to this great sound and album. I think the chances are good that this will hit many best of the year lists in 2010. To get a copy, just visit the following link.
That’s it for now. I hope you all are doing fine and you found some music you liked.
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt (via Dead Oceans, 2010)
Listen while reading:
King Of Spain (from The Wild Hunt)
Burden Of Tomorrow (fromThe Wild Hunt)
p.s. I don’t want to miss to write a word about one of the best folk releases this year. But because I think everybody knows about this, I will make it short. The Tallest Man On Earth and his new album The Wild Hunt is something no folk lover should miss. I don’t want to talk about the album, I just promise you stunning acoustic folk with mostly acoustic guitar and a very characteristic voice. This is what you want to have if you don’t have it already. Buy it together with Phosphorescent’s album and you’ll get two very distinct albums that share the same feature: you will love them with your whole heart. Therefore I hope you already own a copy and don’t have to click this link and order your exemplar of The Wild Hunt instantly – this is a 2010 classic and every folkster has to buy it without reasoning.
Just wanted to let you know that the new Uncles album (I mentioned it here and here) is finally out and totally amazing. But that’s not too surprising because all the tracks that were available in the forefield were just great. But the best thing about the release: you can download the entire thing for free! So, don’t wait and click the following links to get the album via Divshare or just use the official download from the band page. What are you waiting for?
I wrote about the upcoming Uncles album earlier (you can read it here) and now the band is offering their new single Deaf Dumb Dog for your listening pleasure and for free download. Deaf Dumb Dog is different than the two tracks I embedded in my first article; still folky it’s more experimental, maybe more in the vein of musicians like good old Will Oldham who understands to combine folk with nearly every other music genre out there. The atmosphere is kind of dark, the guitars are decent and the percussions are in the back – because of the many breaks and the rough song-structure you can listen to he song many times without getting bored. In comparison to the previous two singles, Deaf Dumb Dog is much more complex with a grande final – this (hopefully) shows that the upcoming album will be complex and not your standard background music – I’m very curious to hear the whole thing and I think Uncles are on their way to score big with their debut record Replacing Words With Other Words.
As a big supporter of combining folk and neo-classic or contemporary classic music, CFM is proud to feature one outstanding and remarkable band you mustn’t miss in 2010. Stylistically very different, Feast Of The Hunters’ Moon reminds me of South China’s debut full length Washingtons – structurally at least. Most part of Black Prairie’s sound is instrumental music even though the vocals from Annalisa Tornfelt were included in some tracks (and rightfully so, because they sound great and very folksy). The tracks reach from more bluegrass oriented ones (Black Alley) to tracks that are similar to classical compositions (A Prairie Musette). It’s interesting to see how this Portland/Oregon based band again shows the enormous talent that emerges from this place of the world – with ease they present such an outstanding debut that you won’t belief it – too ingenious are the melodies, too intense are the moods of the different songs. But this wonderment about the skill that is inherit to the album finds itself shattered if I tell you that the musicians which form the band are not new to music at all – in the contrary, Black Prairie features three members of The Decemberists (Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee and Nate Query) (so you know where the experience comes from…) and the above mentioned Annalisa Tornfelt as well as Jon Neufeld (both referred to as “two of the city’s finest folk stylists” by the Sugar Hill Records Press).
If you expect an album that sounds like one from The Decemberists, you are lookin in the wrong place; Feast Of The Hunters’ Moon is folk and folk only. Roots can be heard (Home Made Lemonade) along with some Balkan influences (Tango Oscuro) and even a touch of jazz found its way into those folk tunes (Crooked Little Heart). The result is deep, intense, varied and creative – simultaneously with all the deepness that can be found throughout the record, I wouldn’t say that it’s melancholic or even introverted music. This music needs room to develop, this music needs to be heard – and if you listen carefully it even invites you to a little dance (Annie McGuire). In the end I would say that Black Prairie’s first album has the perfect balance between calm and quiet and aroused and lively music – there is light and therefore there’s also shadow. I strongly recommend to check out this amazing piece of (mostly) instrumental folk music – clearly one outstanding record in 2010. To purchase your copy of it, just click this link and get your MP3s at iTunes. For further information make sure to visit the band’s MySpace site.
Hello dear CFM readers. I’m very sorry that I don’t update the blog on a daily basis anymore, but there’s much going on here and my studies (and other things) keep me very busy at the moment. I don’t know when this will be over, but I can assure you, that I have a very long list of great music to feature (with no end in sight) and so posts will come steadily but maybe not every day. I hope you’re fine with this.
For today I just want to point my fingers to the new Peppermill Records release. Offered for free, this fine netlabel just came up with the new Power Und Beauty EP called The Gnome. Sure, this is a strange title, but the music underlines the theme with fitting lyrics and instrumentation. Accordion, weird vocal lines and a somewhat funny atmosphere are the catchwords to describe the sound. The two embedded tracks show the extremes of the EP – and I definitely hear some Emilie Lund in the Beggars And Felons track. It’s highly recommended to check out both songs, for they are very different in nature. If you like the experimental yet down to earth style of Power Und Beauty, you shouldn’t wait and download the whole EP from here FOR FREE right now. And that’s it – stay tuned.
Some beautiful Saturday morning folk is what makes a Saturday morning (or noon or afternoon, depends on when you get up) so wonderful. Today my Saturday soundtrack to get you through the day is the amazing 2009 full length debut Kvöldvaka by Icelander acoustic folk singer-songwriter Svavar Knutur. Kvöldvaka “is Icelandic for “Evening wake”. It means a night of stories, songs, singalongs and contemplation.” As I first read this translation for Kvöldvaka I knew that this is the music I’m looking for and to which CFM is dedicated to – and of course this assumption was right and so I’m happy to present to you this wonderful folk record you mustn’t miss to check out.
Normally I don’t like music where I can’t understand the vocals because of language barriers – but in this case I’m toatlly fine with it because the songs are so fascinating and full of feelings that you don’t have to understand word for word to understand what the song is about. Even though not all tracks are written in Icelandic, 5 tracks are (out of 11) and I consider this is worth mentioning because it shapes the overall character of the music (at least if you’re not speaking Icelandic). I actually think that Dansa is my absolute highlight from the album and even though I don’t understand one single word, I’m totally fascinated by the nocturnal acoustic guitar melodies, the slightly melancholic timbre of Svavar’s voice and the wonderful backing vocals that are supported by a smooth, deep and slow bassline. And that’s just one example of the great music you can find. Another one is the opener, an interpretation of the well known traditional Clementine (maybe you remember the interpretation by Daniel, Fred & Julie from their self-titled 2009 debut – if you do, you should compare both versions and see how different and how good they both are). Very good opener that shows the talent not just to repeat a song but to mold and forge it into something own and unique.
The mood of Kvöldvaka is not always dark and somber, sometimes a hopeful shimmer blinks through and dreams of a somehow softer and calmer world – this is what adds a little indie folk feeling to the record that suits it very well (e.g. in Yfir Hóla Og Yfir Hæðir). What’s not so good, in fact terible, is the brake at the end of the album with the 11th track being some sort of a lightly sarcastic, unnecessarily comedic and in comparison disappointing bonus track called Leipzig. I totally miss the honest atmosphere, the true and authentic sound and the reference to the previous tracks. But I don’t want to overstress this point, because it’s the last track and maybe just meant as a bonus (and some sort of inside joke) and not as a worthy track of the regular full length.
Besides this blemish there is absolutely nothing that should obtain you from giving an ear to this astonishing music. The sound is real, the music comes from the heart and if you are a fan of acoustic folk, this is one album for you to celebrate the beauty of our favorite musical genre. I think Svavar Knutur impressively showed that he got enormous talent and that you should be curious about the following releases (CFM will keep you updated). To get your physical or MP3 copy of the album, head over to Svavar’sbandcamp site and buy the music there. Additional information can be found on Svavar’sMySpace.
Our good friends from Electric Western Records are going to release their third record due to April 26. CFM wrote about Electric Western’s debut (Derek Hoke’s album Goodbye Rock’n’Roll) earlier and I’m happy to hear some fresh sounds from the label. Stylistically Jacob Jones takes the same line as Derek Hoke because Bound For Glory is another very good singer-songwriter, folk and (alt) country record. But although the genre is the same, the execution is very different. Maybe you remember Derek Hoke’s album, back then I said that I really like the music and the different colored songs, but I had the feeling the album wasn’t too cohesive for it seemed that the album was more a best of singles collection (positively meant). This lack of unity is surely nothing you can criticize in Jacob’s case because the whole album feels totally flawless in structure und arrangement.
Bound For Glory shows itself from two sides. The major part of the album is characterized by country/folk singer-songwriter ballads, full of emotions and slowly played. Especially the second half of the record got some of the best tracks. The other part are songs which are more aroused, cheerful in melody and with fleet-footed vocals. The Blues Ain’t Got Nothing On You and Broadway Queen are two examples for those more spontaneous tracks. Broadway Queen maybe could be the single for the radios, but because of this it also is a track without too much deepness although the violins add some confident happiness to it and are very remarkabel and catchy. I don’t think it is the best track on the album, but it is easy to see that it fits in very well after The Blues Ain’t Got Nothing On You that is not so different in character.
There are two more of those wilder tracks, one in the middle of the album (So Long Woman) and one at the end (the piano driven Great Big World that serves as an opulent ending to the record). You see that the soft and slow tracks are mixed with those lighter ones and this mixture works very well because most of the tracks are really sentimental and sad wherefore songs like Great Big World ginger up the overall sound a little bit. But as I said above, the real strength of Jacob’s song-writing lies in the slow and mid-tempo ballads which are overwhelmingly beautiful and gripping. Outstanding example is Bonnie And Clyde, the dark and somber timbre and the beautiful female vocals that support Jacob are just incredible – my favorite track from Bound For Glory.
Summary: Bound For Glory is a very elaborate folk/country singer-songwriter album with some wilder, country pop influenced moments. Maybe Broadway Queen is a bit too much of a radio tune but in the end all the tracks work very well together. The acoustic moments with just acoustic guitar and vocals are equally great as the moments accompanied by harp, violin, piano, drums and percussions and of course slide guitar. I think this (alt) country album can be a very good friend inbetween springtime and summer – at least I think it could be, for I’m just in the mood for this type of music. Maybe you’re too, so check out Electric Western Records’ Shop and pick up a copy as soon as it hits the road (April 26). Also make sure to visit Jacob Jones’ MySpace. Watch out for the artist as well as for the label in the future – big things are coming me thinks.
There are several upcoming folk releases in 2010 a serious folker mustn’t miss: The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt, the new Fleet Foxes record, Matt Bauer – The Jessamine County Book Of The Living, Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring, the new Damien Jurado album Saint Bartlett and of course the new Will Oldham output – just to name a few outstanding highlights. One entry form that list was released just recently and I think most of you have witnessed its arrival. The man with the thousand strange names, Will Oldham, paired up with The Cairo Gang and recorded The Wonder Show Of The World. Judging from the name he chose, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, this is the direct follow up to 2009’s Beware album. (Side note: Funtown Comedown was recorded under the moniker Bonny Billy wherefore I think it wasn’t meant as the follow up to Beware, for a different name means a different sound as Oldham said once).
The sad news first: the label didn’t provide free tracks and so I’m not able to embed any of the fascinating songs The Wonder Show Of The World has to offer. Indeed, there was a previously released track (not included on the album), a Cornay Twitty cover version of Play, Guitar, Play, but it doesn’t really represent the whole record, maybe the mood and the atmosphere are similar, but the overall sound is quite different. Anyways, it’s better than nothing. The closest track from the album to Play, Guitar, Play seems to be the beginning of Where Wind Blows, a dark, very laid back acoustic folk track that gets richer and fuller to the end. But the lo-fi character of Play, Guitar, Play is completely gone, instead Paul Oldham did a very good job mastering the final results. Very clear sound, a skillful play with the depth (voice often in the foreground, decent drums in the back, guitars and bass well placed, not overemphasized but always very clear). I like this sound and it shows the songs at their best.
In comparison to Beware, The Wonder Show Of The World is much more intimate, more reduced and overall darker. There are no “hits” like the wonderful I Am Goodbye, but this is nothing you’ll miss, for it only would have disturbed the atmosphere of the album. But as in nearly every Will Oldham album, there is some hope shining through all the tracks, no resignation – and that seems to be fitting very well for I can’t imagine a resigned Will Oldham. I don’t want to decide if this follow up is better or worse than the previous output, but one thing is for sure, it’s different. Nevertheless it’s another classic in Will Oldham’s repertory, a must buy for 2010 and surely one record that will also fascinate the audiences in the years ahead. Don’t miss the new Oldham and visit this site to find the right distributor to order your copy immediately. Long live Will Oldham!
I got a bit lazy at Easter and so there were no posts in the last few days – but CFM is back, at least for today. I decided to write some words about one of the two new Elephant Micah releases: Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds. And I have a very strong reason for doing so because I think this is the best folk record of 2010 so far. But let’s start at the beginning. As I first read the news over at Slowcoustic that Elephant Micah was releasing two new albums, I instantly listened to the files provided by the artist for each albums over at Elephant Micah’s band page. Loon Call, the opener of the Echoer’s Intent CD sounded just wonderfully sad and was full of emotions; in the contrary Loop And Lil from Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds was very lo-fi and missed – as I thought after first listen – some deepness. So, due to the amount of money on my bank account, I decided to order only the Echoer’s Intent release. It arrived one or two weeks later and it is a damn wonderful and great acoustic folk record with some good J. Tillman influences (indeed unmistakable). I listened to it over and over and every time I listened to it I got more curious about the other half of the two records. Fortunately there were some good internet spirits that opened up the opportunity to listen to the full album – that’s where the magic begun: One day I worked on my master’s thesis and Plays The Songs Of Bible Bird was in repeat mode – and I think I listened to it 5 or 6 times in a row. Every time it played I got more and more hooked and the album slowly became one of my favorites. That was also the moment I realized I made a mistake by not purchasing both albums in the first place – and so I ordered what I had missed. Leap in time: Three days ago my copy finally arrived here and I’m more than happy that it arrived safe and sound – for in the meantime I listened to it over and over and I got convinced that this has to be the acoustic folk album of the year 2010 (so far).
I don’t want to tell the whole story surrounding the release, you can easily read it over here, but I want to point out that I think I have found back my faith into lo-fi folk (in the MacGregor Burns article I thought I had lost it to a certain degree). I don’t know why exactly, but the first time feeling listening to Loop And Lil completely turned itself inside-out and now I think there can’t be a better way Elephant Micah could have presented his songs – the raw charm of the recording and the fragile tracks are completely fitting opposites (yeah…). The backing vocals of Beth Remis add up wonderfully to Joe O’Connell’s (the real name behind Elephant Micah). I can’t explain why those tracks got such a hold on me, but I know for sure that the ingenuity and the occurring J. Tillman influences are part of it – but I don’t want to overemphasize the point, that the album got some similarities with Joshua’s style of folk, but it sure is one aspect of it. The Brither Bird, The Better (the secret title track) is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard even though there is nothing that would make it special or something: decent percussions, a simple bass line, simple guitar playing, ok, there is a more experiemnetal center section, but that’s clearly not the reason why I love this track so much. It is the whole atmosphere – the melting of the contrasts. – Maybe I should mention another influence I realize, especially while talking about the J. Tillman influenced The Brighter Bird, the Better: the follow up track, Imagenary Melodies, just shows how close Elephant Micah is to releases of Sam Beam’s early folk phase where he wasn’t afraid of sounding lo-fi and reduced (I just name the wonderful The Sea And The Rhythm EP). Anyway, you mustn’t think of Plays The Songs Of The Bible Birds as of an easy rip-off of those artists – there is more than enough O’Connel in the music to make it independent from the others (especially Are You A Christian? shows this impressively). And also the second objection you might have, namely that Joe just didn’t feel like or wasn’t able to record the tracks in a “proper” sounding way, is completely bullsith. One point objectively and another subjectively prove that. Firstly: Just listen to Echoer’s Intent and you will see a clear and clean produced acoustic folk album, without all the lo-fi – so if you don’t like the lo-fi stuff, just give a listen to the other album. And secondly, the subjective point: I don’t think that those tracks would have sounded nearly as good as they do if they would have been recorded in the Echoer’s Intent way – they need the contrast I spoke of above, they need the raw and the gentle – beautiful portraits drawn in ash (soft breeze). I just repeat it, this is my album of the year so far and I highly recommend to check out both releases and buy them as long as they are available (note: Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds will also be available as a LP version soon). To have a look at the albums, just visit Elephant Micah’sband site – to buy them head over to Time-Lag Records (here and here). CFM awesomeness guarantee!
We take a little genre jump, but keep up the good quality of yesterday’s music by Lindsay Clark. And so Brooklyn/New York based folk/alt country singer-songwriter Andrew Vladeck’s newest release is what I want to serve you for your musical pleasure (released back in 2009, but only now distributed in Europe). The Wheel is the name of the record and it’s mostly a combination of alt country with little rock influences and singer-songwriter folk. The most characteristic feature seems to be Andrew’s voice, with lots of country feeling – sometimes it pushes you forward (mostly in the harder tracks: Hold Me Back or The Songs You Inspire or the title track) sometimes it sounds really exhausted, harassed (Waiting For The Coffee To Kick In) and sometimes it’s relaxed and confident (Avenue U). And as many facets as Andrew’s voice is able to sing, so is his overall album. The title track, for example, is a banjo and electric guitar driven tune with some hammond organ (or synthesizer) atmospheres in the back, with clear rock influeneces and vocals which, off the chorus, strongly remind of spoken word techniques. Maybe that’s not what you expect the first time you listen to the album, but the fact that Andrew chose this as the title track shows, that this is the sound he connects with the album and from this point every listener should come, to understand The Wheel the right way.
In comparison to the title track, there are tracks like The Magnet or Chinatown or The 21st Century. Those three tracks should serve as examples to show the many styles you can hear on the album. The Magnet, one of my favorites, is a fascinating folk song with country flair accompanied by acoustic guitar and some atmospheres here and there. It’s a love song with a unique character, not least because of the wonderful vocal melodies and catchy lines. A very nice sing-along that emphasizes the folksy side of The Wheel. But it would be too easy to cut the album in half – say one alt country side and one folk side. Songs like Chinatown are experimental, not really folk, not really alt country, somewhere in between. Chinatown sounds like a combination of an oldtimes music banjo melodie and some apocalyptic slide guitar blips/screams which, in the end, get some flow as the noises and melodies unite. A very interesting song, maybe not your number one earworm and also not the track you will play for your friends introducing them to the album, but as part of the overall experience very important and also important as a brick that builds the bridge to the wonderful acoustic versuion of The 21st Century, the last track of the album. It’s interesting to see how the same tracks once works with electric guitars and synthesizer atmospheres (as the third track) and once without those. In this case the versions are still similar in character, but the acoustic one sounds more folky, a bit darker, wherefore the original version got more of the alt country. That Andrew deceided to put this acoustic version on his album seemed to be a very good decision that improves the record – you never will think of it as such gruesome things like bonus tracks or other album concept destroying things. No, this version really rounds up the record and fits well into the album structure.
I hope those tracks I wrote about and embedded showed some of the variety of The Wheel. If you are interested in buying your copy, use this link for ordering a physical copy or the MP3s (if you order from Germany/Austria/Switzerland you can buy from Cargo Records, from the Benelux try Rendezvous Records). Further details can be found on Andrew Vladeck’sband page as well as on his MySpace. Alt country for the heart.
I hope you are ready for some of the best acoustic folk I listened to in a long time. Lindsay Clark’s album Thistle The Maker, which was released back in April 2009, is the cause for rejoicing. The songstress from Portland is dedicated to the purest form of acoustic folk and doesn’t need anything else than her beautiful voice and her guitar to record an album full of emotions and slowed down tunes, sorrowful, sad, but still with a little hope left. Her voice has a very wide range and the melodies she sings make strong use of this fact – the alteration between loud and high tones and nearly whistled deep tones delivers the necessary variety to keep the album entertaining while being as reduced as it is. And it shows one more time that the often read statement that a girl/guy with just a guitar is something boring or something that lacks deepness and reflection – to the contrary – these girls and guys have a even harder job to create good music, because there is just a narrow range of stylistic posibilities. All the more amazing it is to hear such fresh and honest and just wonderful music that’s so full of heart.
Listening to Thistle The Maker I had to spontaneously think of acts like Joanne Robertson, Laura Gibson or Lotte Kestner. They all play a very chilled and laid-back folk even though their music isn’t comparebal in all aspects (naturally). But if you like one of the above mentioned artists, you surely will love Lindsay Clark. And I have a very strong feeling that she has the makings to play her way into the first division of folk. And while I’m typing this, every single note I currently hear proves that – Daybreak, the last track of the album, is playing right now and the interplay between slow and sleepy guitar melodies and more clearly audible guitar play and louder and stretched tones in her voice is just oh so wonderful.
I have a hard time to name what track on the album could be the best one, for I think all tracks are top notch and nothing than the result of outstanding singer-songwriter qualities. The little variations that can be found throughout the whole record bring out the main points and set outstanding highlights. I’m talking about some back ground vocals here (Sweet Clover or Waxwings), some strings there (also Sweet Clover or The Symbol) and great ammounts of silence, which rightfully is used as an instrument (Blackbirds). In Children you even find some decent, sparsely used drums and percussions.
There is not much to add, Lindsay’sThistle The Maker is just the right record if you’re really into singer-songwriter music and acoustic folk. This isn’t a record most of your friends will like (for you are reading CFM you should have experienced that already) but it’s downright not a record you should listen to together with a crowd of others. This music is like an intimate moment for you alone, maybe together with some good like-minded folks. This music needs the quiet – as much as you need it and as much as you love it (at least sometimes). This music is fragile and it should be treated like that. You know what I mean, but I wanted to point that out, because Thistle The Maker is that exqusite fare you have to search for very long, very hard and often very unsuccessful. To get a copy of this piece of folk art, head over to cdbaby.com and buy yours there. For more information, visit Lindsay Clark’sMySpace. And be prepared to hear some new material of Lindsay in the future, for she’s searching for recording locations and musicians right now. I’ll keep you informed.
Are you looking for some Saturday afternoon music? Well, I think I can provide you with some goods here. Zachary Cale, singer-songwriter from Gowanus/New York, just recently released a new 7’’ with two previously unreleased tracks. The songs arose from the recording of his last full length album and can be seen as snapshots of this time. Stylistically I would consider the 7” as folk, but with some moments of psychedelic slow alternative music à la Galaxie 500. Yeah, I really like this comparison and I think it fits well. The first track, Come Quietly, is build around a nice guitar melody that is accompanied by decent percussions and some synth atmospheres. Zachary Cale’s voice reminds a little bit of The Talles Man On Earth, but without those immense sudden surges of emotions. It also seems that they removed the high and low frequencies a bit to created a distant, filtered effect – the result sounds very nice and adds a unique feeling to both tracks. You can see Come Quietly as a collage of field recordings transferred into an artificial environment – the voice of nature (both artificial (cars driving by) and natural (birdsong)) combined with electronic sounds from the synthesizer and acoustic music. A very special track I really like a lot.
The second single, The Wedding Party, is similar in intension, in setup, but without the field recordings. The voice got the same effect, but the synth atmospheres are more present. On the label page I read the following comparison: “a stream of consciousness ode to love with lyrical images floating by like faces in train windows”. How could anyone come up with better words for that lovely, lovely song? I love the wording, it really captures the character of the track and there’s nothing to add. The Wedding Party is more lo-fi, more washed out as Come Quietly, but in a very pleasant way. I think I have to spend some time with the other music of Zachary Cale too. This 7” is more than promising and one of the best 7”s I heard this year. Certainly a buy recommendation – and to order this dim diamond, head over to All Hands Electric and order one exemplar as long as supplies last. (If you want, you can order the two previous albums too: click here and here) To learn more about Zachary Caleread here and visit his MySpace too.
No, the picture above has nothing to do with goregrind or death metal or even animal abuse. It’s the cover artwork of the new Out Like Lambs release and it shows a picture of their cat which lost an eye “but sure is one happy cat”, as Michael from the band states. Now that you know that, we can go on to the music. Filed Recordings Vol. 1 is the second release by CFM praised band Out Like Lambs and it’s only available in a limited edition of 100 cassettes. So you better be quick and get your order in to receive one of the rare tapes.
But I’m sure the music will surprise you, if you know and loved the sound of the debut record, for Field Recordings Vol. 1 isn’t an actual album, it’s more like a collection of experiments, b-sides and other material from the depths of Out Like Lambs’ HDs. This explains why there are lo-fi garage rock tracks with authentic zero quality recording (Last Summer) as well as typical Out Like Lambs songs like the wonderful Old Whispers with nice and smooth acoustic guitars and a nocturnal atmosphere. Certainly it would be a normal review strategy to compare this follow up to the debut EP, but in this case I don’t see that this would make much sense, because it’s not really meant as follow up release. Michael says:
‘field recordings’ is basically b-sides and us getting ‘experimental’, genre jumping and having fun. going to keep on with the more folky sound but this is a good excuse to get the tunes from just rotting on a hard drive
Right he is. And this is also the way I want to look at the release, because otherwise, it would be too much of a stylistic clash. I make it clear to you: this is a very cool release and if you like folk (and noise pop and lo-fi rock and jazz improvisations), this could be something you might want to own. For it is exactly that. To consume the music the right way, you should classify the track into two groups: the loud and experimental one and the more traditional folky one. The loud tracks are the opener, Last Summer, the above mentioned lo-fi garage rock thing Archangel, a very explosive mixture of noise pop/rock and jazz improvisation, and Little Creature, a also very lo-fi psychedelic garage rock/pop piece of music. Those three tracks shape the whole recording because they are so much different than the rest. You will automatically think of them when thinking of Field Recordings Vol. 1.
Group two, the more folky tracks, contains five songs that are not that unfamiliar with the ones of the debut. And as Michael said, the tracks are basically b-sides and naturally not as outstanding as the previous tracks for the proper release. But they are still very good and better than much music you’ll find while browsing the net for good folk. Manolin is one example of how great b-sides can be and it’s also the track that reminds me most of the original Out Like Lambs sound: strings, flute, harp(?), guitar, drums, percussions, piano…there’s a lot going on in there. But still the track stays gentle and lovely. If the next full length or EP will sound like this, I know that Out Like Lambs will grow a real big fanbase – CFM is already convinced and following!
To get your copy of the tape, head over to the band’s MySpace and order it from there by writing an e-mail or pm. Go, Out Like Lambs!
Have I mentioned that they sound a lot like Yo La Tengo, especially in the non folky tracks?
The wonderful Gold & Silver Recordings are back with a new release, a compilation full of acoustic folk at its best. (And you can win an exemplar of it! Wow! More information at the bottom of the page!) Featured are well known artists as well as mostly unknown names which have one thing in common: spare beauty and the magic of creating sad music mostly accompanied by acoustic guitar. You’ll find artists from the US, the UK and Germany – I really like the idea of flawless musical borders and the result shows that the tracks harmonize very well even though they span nearly all around the world. Along with this, the compilation is also a very important sign to the world that Germany’s folk scene is growing and already has got some serious talent. And I don’t say this because I’m proud that there are some serious folk rumors in my home country, I say this for the songs are really that good and because Haruko and Hlynur Gudjonsson did a fantastic job in collecting, partially recording, compiling and releasing this snazzy folk gem.
You won’t be surprised when I’m telling you that Haruko and Hlynur Gudjonsson have songs of their own on the compilation, seems quite natural. I’m just a little bit surprised that they decided to not put on exclusive tracks. But this isn’t a complaint, because both tracks are simply beautiful. Haruko’s song Autumn, Golden Trees was taken from her debut full length Wild Geese and Hlynur Gudjonsson’sNashville Sky Pt. 2 from the great Death Was A Stranger EP (reviewed here). Where Haruko’s voice is ethereal and her guitar play lulling, Hlynur Gudjonsson’s is dark, sad and full of melancholy. But these two songs aren’t the only things you want to listen to, take for example Harmony Circles by Itai Faierman, lo-fi in character, really dry, but still one hell of a folk track with catchy vocal melodies. The contrast to Robh Hokum’s fuller, warmer guitar sound creates a nice tension and especially in comparison to the fantastic, slightly experimental Olenka & The Autumn Lovers song Iron Pump, the variety of the record is proven – but all the time within the boundaries of acoustic folk. The last three tracks of the first half (of 14 tracks overall) display this variety again, even though Frère De Song’sIn My Room is a great addition to Robh Hokum and not so different in style, maybe again a bit richer and fuller in sound. But Frère De Song’s voice got a intense dark night feeling to it and this makes this song really special and one of my favorites. But while talking of favorites, I have to mention Brooklyn/New York based Christopher Paul Stelling…oh, what a fantastic, what a pushing track he contributed. Flawless Executioner shines with wild finger-picked acoustic guitar play and a totally emotional, often collapsing voice. Honest and real. – The completion of side one, so to say, is Jose Delhart (we posted on him earlier). His track got some world music influences from Eastern Europe, I think, and is a nice addition to the whole compilation. But especially this track shows a little weakness of the release, for the volume levels fluctuate quite a bit sometimes. But ok, that’s not really a big deal.
Let’s get to the b-side of the Gold & Silver Compilation #1. And atmospherically harmonious the second half opens with a very quiet and somehow scary track from The Canoe Man that totally reminds me of Flying Saucer Attack’s track In The Light Of Time form the Further album. Ok, it’s not as noisy, but the vocal style is quite similar and so is the overall atmosphere. I don’t know if I should call the track folk, but at least I call it awesome! Jonathan Hicks, the next artist, is more folksy again and his fine little Song For Sailors, with the sea in the background, is quite a nice pick and the somehow droning voice represents both the drinking habit of stereotypical sailors and the rough ocean waves. Annalena Bludau is one artist I knew of for quite some time, musically, but I don’t know, I never got warm with her music. The more I was surprised that her song Laces Of Your Shoes, is such nice, traditional folk, just voice and acoustic guitar, nothing experimental, a decent sound, but a very good mastering, the voice in front, but the guitar not far behind. Really nice melodies and a really good song, maybe I have to rethink my previous opinion about her music.
So, there are only the last three tracks left and they make a really nice final. Things In Herds combine folk sound with the sound of bands like Savoy Grand, I think. The result equally sounds folky with gentle guitar melodies, but also like some good old slowcore (in the vein of Savoy Grand, not necessarily Low). This slowcore moment is also the perfect basis for the following piano and vocals track by Thankyoustreetsound. Sad in melody it is a great track to listen to while leaves are falling and everything turns into brown and yellow shades. Very good music for the night. I think it would have been the perfect last track for the compilation, but I can see the point, that this could have evoked the feeling as if it was put at the end because it doesn’t really fit in musically. That’s not the case, but I think everyone who has at least little fun creating mix tapes and playlists, knows about the problem of the last two tracks. So there was a decision necessary and Haruko and Hlynur Gudjonsson decided to put Patrick Graham’s song Turn Into Dust to the end. And I understand the reasons for that, the track represents the whole compilation, pure acoustic folk, pure acoustic guitar, very nice song structure with an very interesting break shortly before the end. And then the last notes pass away and then there’s silence (what is not true because the compilation runs on repeat here, but anyways…)
Ok, now the part where I tell you what to do to win an exemplar of this great CDr compilation: just write a 5000+ words essay on the topic of contemporary folk music. HAHA, yeah, just kiddin’ here…if you really want to win that copy, just write me an e-mail and I will randomly choose one winner from all entries. This contest will last 24 hours. If you don’t get lucky and you still want a copy, you should visit Gold & Silver Recordings’ MySpace site and order your copy via pm or mail. And don’t forget to write me that e-mail – fine music’s waiting!
A little bit late, but finally Robin Grey gets featured here at CFM too. Early in January I found his album through Song, By Toad and just recently I saw a feature over at Schallgrenzen. There I posted a comment and because of this comment Robin Grey contacted me and asked for a review, not knowing that I loved his album since I found it in January. But as things go, I totally forgot to post about Robin Grey’s music and needed this reminder even though his music was a regular in my hi-fi for quite some time. But now I can take actions and fix things by introducing this great singer-songwriter/folk artist from the UK to all of you that haven’t heard of him yet.
Strangers With Shoes is Robin’s second full length, follow up to the 2008 Following The Missile debut and 2009′s I Love Leonard Cohen EP. And it’s something special, Robin created a very professional record that combines string instruments, piano, acoustic guitar, percussions and vocals and even accordion to an unusual folk with earworm guarantee, but not because the tracks would be just hooky melodies without fundament, but because every track is distinct from the others. I mentioned the accordion and because of it in combination with the monotonous percussion and the occasional strings the album opener, Younger Looking Skin, will stay in mind for a long time. But this is clearly not the only highlight on the CD, there are more; not to say every track seems to be a highlight. Roses From Africa starts as a slowed down folk song, and in the end becomes a classical seeming tune combining genres. A brilliant conclusion to the album. In between those two mentioned tracks there are e.g. the two wonderful songs I Love Leonard Cohen and Montreal. The first is a sing-along folk song with one happy and one sad eye in which Robin sings about his love to Leonard Cohen while everything steadily changes. What a wonderful homage and what a wonderful track. And speaking of wonderful tracks Montreal is just another of those outstanding folk moments on the album. Totally different in character, with banjo melodies, melancholic singing, spares, it transports a atmosphere of goodbys and loneliness.
I don’t want to go track by track, but also the remaining ones are this high in quality and Strangers With Shoes is clearly one album that lives from its diversity, or better: its ability to exhaust the folk genre without leaving the boarders or being really experimental. It shows the different facets you can realize while keeping your sound folky – and therefore it succeeded big in being really entertaining to the core. Robin’s voice sounds mature and could belong to an experienced folk singer-songwriter, at least sometimes, in tracks like the Younger Looking Skin this feature doesn’t shine through as clearly as in exempli gratia Ninety Days. But this is again another point that adds up to the discussed variety. Stranger With Shoes can be called a very solid album that has no real weak points from the beginning to the end. Even if I try really hard imagining what could have been better, it is very little I find. Maybe adding one track more to the album would have been a good decision, but with 37 minutes it already has got optimal album playing time in my opinion…it’s just that the album is over very fast because there is no single minute of boringness. So this seems to be no critical point at all. I have no idea what to criticize, Strangers With Shoes seems to be immune to negative critic. And so be it.
If you’re interested in hearing the whole album, there are several options to purchase it/get it: Buy the CD version and immediately get a download code for the 320kbps MP3s or just buy the MP3s directly. This can be done via Robin Grey’sbandcamp site. And here is a little surprise I have for you reading the whole review (or just scrolling down to the end): if you just want to take a listen to the album, you can download a 192kbps MP3 version of it completely for free by clicking this link. That’s just great, I know, but don’t hesitate to spend some bucks too. Strangers With Shoes – folk up!
It seems very odd to me that a label with two outstanding releases this year gets nearly zero blog coverage. I’m talking about Loose Records, well known for having artists like William Grant Conspiracy, Blanche or The Duke & The King on board. In 2010 it released the wonderful debut of Danny And The Champions Of The World called Streets Of Our Time, a country outlet with many outstanding tracks and a very own, unique character (read a review over at Songs: Illinois); and the self-titled debut of Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou, an absolutely breathtaking acoustic folk record I’m going to review in a second. Sometimes I don’t understand what’s going on in the blogosphere and if you read many blogs and you try to observe the structures, you will notice that there seem to be very few records that actually get much of what is called blog love. Sure, there are tons of tons of albums out there and all the blogs constantly feature tons of new artists and releases, but if you watch out for records that really get features, say, on at least 5 or 6 different blogs, you’ll notice that those albums are the ones that will be in most of the year’s end lists. I don’t want to say that the indie blogging scene got a bit flat, a bit monotonous, but there seems to be a secret mechanism that separates the often featured albums from the lost and forgotten ones. And I can tell for sure that quality isn’t a factor here. Just look at albums like Beach House’s fanatically praised (but relatively lame) Teen Dream or jj’s (much, much better) No. 3 or Owen Pallett’s (rightly lauded) Heartlands, not to mention Joanna Newsom’s (very good, but far away from perfect) Have One On Me or First Aid Kit’s (maybe the worst folk record 2010 so far and absolutely not worth any penny) The Big Black And The Blue or last year’s hyped The Antlers’ indie album Hospice and totally overhyped The XX’s debut XX. I could go on further and further, but you get the picture. I think every attentive indie and or folk blog reader will notice mostly all names and has listened to most of the records at least once. And also CFM featured some of the above mentioned bands here, because I liked the music and I wanted to share my thoughts on it with you. But the fact is, if I wouldn’t have done so, would there have been any loss? I don’t think so and still I like to write down my own thoughts, but this is another topic. What I try to show is, that the indie scene seems not to be so indie at all, for I bet that any upcoming album of the mentioned artists will get plenty of praise, equal if it is good or bad (and I don’t claim for myself being able to judge an album as objectively good or bad, because there is no such objective truth in arts). But I think you understand what I mean – and I don’t think, that this is really problematic, because that’s how the system works, the popular get more popular (The Mountain Goats on the telly…), the rich get richer blabla. And I also think that featuring popular indie artists is totally ok, because most of them really make good music (best example: J. Tillman); but as I thought about what blog love means, it seemed that this term only applies to artists and albums that don’t need much of it anymore for they are loved already – and by many. In the end all I wanted to say is: I’m startled why Loose Records’s Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou haven’t got some more blog attention yet, and why Loose Records wasn’t recognized more outside of the UK in 2010 while having released two really strong albums. What a stupidly long introduction!
The husband and wife duo from London/UK shows with the self-titled debut, that contemporary folk music from the UK is more attractive than ever – and they don’t need to be experimental or genre breaking to do so, because they just play solid folk music straight from the heart – and this creates the honesty in music I often speak of. Just take the album opener Allotment Song: some gently played acoustic guitar, two beautiful female voices, some harmonica at the end and very decent percussions, just to give some rhythm, very much located in the back of the overall sound. How does it work out?, well, it’s just beautiful and so is the rest of the album, sometimes a bit more reduced like in the minimalistic One Wednesday In June, sometime a bit more aroused, more vital as in Some Dreaming To Do. Listening to the tunes, you feel set back to the 70s folk music, some late hippie spirit, some more reflected lyrics, not just free love and dope. England is one of those tracks that combine both influences to a heart-warming track you can feel with, you can think about.
I wrote about Vashti Bunyan earlier and I clearly see some parallels in sound and song structure though not all tracks remind me of her. Heaven Knows is more of a folk-pop track with some gospel similarities, but not pop as in indie pop, but pop as in not like Vashti Bunyan. Recently featured Shelley Miller could be named, but without all the jazz. But maybe this comparison isn’t too good, because Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou are much more folksy. I really like the guitar and the banjo and the characteristic vocal intonation in These Are Your Days, with slightly country influences and again very decent and careful percussion work. Another outstanding track is Sally Took The Ivory with what seems to be nearly muted flute play in the back (maybe it’s a synthesizer but I don’t think so). This track also shows another very distinguishable feature of the whole record: the play with the volume. More than many other records, the band knew what have to be in the foreground, what in the back, the quietness as an essential part of the whole debut makes it a highly pleasant experience to listen to.
As I said, Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou created a masterpiece of subtlety, a folk record that stands out – but sadly without the impact on the scene I wish it had. But hey, so it’s a hidden gem and it waits for you to be discovered. And you maybe have to spend some time discovering the record, for it is not the most intuitive one, but after three or four rounds in your player, you’ll be glad you have this fantastic 2010 album in your record collection. To get one, head over to Loose Records and buy it directly from there – and while you are surfing Loose, just order a copy of the great Danny And The Champions Of The World CD too. You won’t regret it. Both albums get CFM awesomeness guarantee. Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou comes with hand pressed tomato-seeds – what else do you want? (Maybe to visit their band homepage or MySpace)
As a CFM reader there is a fair chance that you know J. Tillman (of course you do…) and therefore I assume that you are also familiar with his amazing 2007 Cancer And Delirium record. But do you remember the label that released the album? If not, you really should. Yer Bird Records is a small label putting out high quality (often folk) music. Along with J. Tillman there are releases from folk/folk rocker The Gunshy, alt country band Blackbird Harmony (who sadly broke up) and of course folk singer-songwriter Hezekiah Jones, just to name a few. The reason why I tell you this is simple: Yer Bird Records just re-launched and has new owners – and if you haven’t heard it yet, it’s nobody else than Sandy (from the Slowcoustic blog) and his wife Judy. I don’t know, but I see a future full of great music releases coming and Yer Bird will be their home. To celebrate the re-launch, Yer Bird received a full make over and a new, great looking layout – but that’s not all! If you haven’t purchased Hezekiah Jones’ music yet, you can now order an exclusive bundle from Yer Bird’s store containing all his releases. Still more to come: the line-up for the follow up compilation of the stunning Folk Music For The End Of The World was confirmed (but not yet shared). But I can let you know that it will be awesome – lot’s of great bands, that’s for sure. The title will be Folk Music For What Lies Ahead and “is meant to represent the new launch of the label”. Release date seems to be set for summer – but let’s start celebrating right now! Be sure to visit Yer Bird and have a look around.
Here is a quote from the original newsletter:
Just wanted to send a note out about what’s going on at Yer Bird Records HQ. Yer Bird has recently move from Philadelphia to The Great White North…Calgary, Alberta and is now under the watchful eyes and ears of Judy & Sandy Smith (you may recognize Sandy from the Slowcoustic music blog). Along with a new look for the website (www.yerbird.com) we have also added digital downloads and a couple of new offerings!!
So, part 2. Yesterday I received a music submission for Uncles‘ upcoming debut album Replacing Words With Other Words. Uncles is a collaboration between Dan Bateman and Will Schwartz, two Queens-based singer-songwriters. The label shares the first two tracks which are very promising. Acoustic folk for the most time, but the info-sheet states that the album will also explore other genres, officially it says:
There’s a lot of sex on the record, some urban grit, a fair share of plaintive mid-western balladeering, tales of nursing-home dimentia, and plenty of violence, too. It’s a musically diverse album, with different members of the Ensemble of Uncles bringing their training from free jazz, classical, and folk idioms to support the songs.
I don’t know what the result will be like, but in the mail I received I read that it might sound a bit like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – and judging from the quote I can really imagine this and it makes me very curious to hear the full record. The two shared songs hopefully represent the overall quality of Replacing Words With Other Words, but I will keep you updated as soon as I have the opportunity to listen to the full record. The album will be officially released due April 15. This is their MySpace – check it out for further details.
In correspondence with yesterday’s indie rock post I deceided to post another (not entirely) indie rock related article today. But I want to keep this very short, because I’m really not in the mood for blogging right now. Dreamboat offers a very nice label sampler that features exclusive tracks from upcoming albums as well as material from 2009. The mix of the different styles is very good and indie rock (Three Conored Moon) goes hand in hand with acoustic folk (Whalebone Polly) and electronic soundscapes (The Rollercoaster Project). I don’t liked the Bear In Heaven track, but the rest is really good stuff and even the sampler as a whole is very enjoyable to listen to.
I originally found the compilation through a post over at Das Klienicum, so all the credit goes there. If you want a digital copy of the sampler, just click here. But the best things come last: the label offers the sampler as a pressed CD completely for free. You just have to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and they ship your copy to everywhere in the world (I got mine already!) – that’s great PR. For more information visit Dreamboat Records.