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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.

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Ghosts I’ve Met – Payphone Patience EP (via Yer Bird, 2010)

Listen while reading:

Payphone Patience (from Payphone Patience EP) download it!

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.

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Hoquiam – Hoquiam (via St. Ives, 2010)

Listen while reading:

Zombies Of The Sea (from Hoquiam)

On The Beach (from Hoquiam)

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.

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Martha Tilston – Lucy And The Wolves (via Squiggly Records, 2010)

Listen while reading:

Wild Swimming (from Lucy And The Wolves)

Searching For Lambs (from Lucy And The Wolves)

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…).

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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 (from My 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.

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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 (from Here’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.

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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 (from The 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.

Uncles – Replacing Words With Other Words
self-released 2010 (Download the album for FREE!)

[tags: folk, alt country, singer-songwriter, 2010, FREE]

Listen while reading:

Sleep Alone (from Replacing Words With Other Words) download song! or download album!!

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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?

Dustin O’Halloran – Vorleben
Sonic Pieces 2010

[tags: neo-classic, instrumental, solo piano, concert, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Opus 28 (from Vorleben)

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If you followed the musical development of Peter Broderick, you’ll be familiar with his Docile recording which featured mostly instrumental solo piano music. Anf if you liked that, there is a good chance that you’ll like the new Sonic Pieces release as well. Dustin O’Halloran, known for his wonderful and varied skill for writing modern solo piano music, played a concert in the Grunewald Chruch in Berlin and this concert is now available for your listening pleasure – and pleasure is the right word here, even though the melodies are not exactly happy or cheerful, they are deep and warm – in a good way, they make you reflect upon whatever you think about.

I have to admit that I have had a little bit of a hard time finding the right words to describe this music to you – and I still have. It’s easier for me to talk about folk than modern solo piano. But what I can tell you is that the acoustics with the light reverb and hall are perfect to underline the hovering character and the airy, bottomless mood of the compositions. It feels like you are alone in space and surrounded by nothing else than those wonderful silvery notes. Each track on the disc seems to tell a story, but the more you concentrate on its contents the more you get sucked in into a shimmering specter of pure sound – the sounds become colors and you seem to melt in them. But as I said, every track tells you something, every track seems to have a specific structure woven out of successive hollows. Fill in the gaps and you have your story, if you don’t fill in your own thoughts, well that’s ok too, than you can enjoy the crystal clear notes and melodies in the above mentioned color-transformed sense without your thoughts being affected.

Ok, maybe the whole thing got a bit to much metaphorical, let me put it in drier words: Vorleben effectively affects your thoughts with the provided mood coming from each composition, maybe you even feel a bit hazy while reflecting and listening. On the other hand this music can also be enjoyed pure – just the music, no thoughts – then you will find yourself in a world full of crystals and diamonds with no other inherent meaning than just being there.

Overall Vorleben shows again that Sonic Pieces is one of the top German labels combining folk and modern classic/neo-classic and that Dustin O’Halloran can be rightfully considered one outstanding figure in contemporary composition. Therefore Vorleben is one hundred percent worth buying – not at least because of the wonderful packaging which makes every release a collector’s item. So, if you like solo piano/contemporary classic/neo-classic or however you call it and you’re searching for some wonderful instrumental piano music, give this concert a try. To get a copy of the disc, just visit Sonic Pieces, choose your region and order quick (for Sonic Pieces releases are known to sell out very fast). If you like, spend some time on Dustin O’Halloran’s homepage too.

Uncles – Replacing Words With Other Words
Sweet Touch Records 2010

[tags: folk, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Deaf Dumb Dog (from Replacing Words With Other Words) download song!

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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.

Black Prairie – Feast Of The Hunters’ Moon
Sugar Hill Records 2010

[tags: acoustic, folk, 2010, great!, mostly instrumental, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Red Rocking-Chair (from Feast Of The Hunters’ Moon) download it!

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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.

Power Und Beauty – The Gnome EP
Peppermill Records 2010 (free download)

[tags: folk, strange, funny, FREE, EP, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Beggars And Felons (from The Gnome EP) download it!

The Author Of Spring (from The Gnome EP) download it!

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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.

Svavar Knutur – Kvöldvaka
Dimma Records 2009

[tags: acoustic, folk, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Dansa (from Kvöldvaka)

Clementine (from Kvöldvaka)

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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’s bandcamp site and buy the music there. Additional information can be found on Svavar’s MySpace.