Friday, June 29, 2007

Blanche - murky, but good

I first saw Blanche when they supported The Handsome Family at the ever-great City Varieties a few years ago and I can honestly say it was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Proper laugh-out-loud funny gags, husband/wife/boy/girl vocals and gorgeous songs about really ugly things. I hear that some of our readers saw them when they supported The White Stripes and I imagine the vibe was the same. I certainly hope you had as good a time as I did.

So what a delight to see Blanche headline last night. They were superb but the whole evening was marred by a frankly appalling sound system/engineer at the Cockpit. It was desperately murky at the start of the gig and didn't get too much clearer all night. It's such a pity as the lyrics are a key part of their sound. Anyways, in the end, the power of a steel guitar and banjo won out and a good time was had by all - there was a group of lads having a bit of a spiritual experience by the looks of it. Manly do-si-dos all round. See if these don't get you up and dancing.

Listen - Blanche - I'm Sure of It
Listen - Blanche - What This Town Needs

Buy the new album, Little Amber Bottles, for a bargain tenner.

Look at their beautiful website. Even if you’re not a fan, your eyes will thank you. I also recommend getting on their mailing list for a quarterly dose of witty goth americana to cheer up your working day.

More quirky loveliness on their MySpace page.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

dead heart bloom

Dead Heart Bloom are giving away their new album Chelsea Diaries, as well as their self titled debut on their offical website. Both albums are worth a listen, with Eric Matthews/Cardinal (both of those ridiculously cheap on amazon btw) Classic country-pop that bubbles along nicely with lyrics that don't induce toe-curling or boredom. These are from Chelsea Diaries:

Listen: Dead Heart Bloom - Who Will You Love
Listen: Dead Heart Bloom - Someday our time will come


Monday, June 25, 2007

Hayward Williams - Another Sailor's Dream

One of our kind readers has recommended Hayward Williams to us as he’s been doing a quick tour stint with No River City, who we posted about last week. It’s a real pleasure to hear from you lot about good things – it’s one of the reasons we do this. More is more, right? So, onwards…

You’ll like this - a slice of americana with a good healthy dose of bluegrass and some Van in there, too. The classic lonesome ingredients are present and correct - pedal steel, a harmonica, dobro and a whole lot of guitars.

Listen - Problems with Hemingway

It’s far more Dylan than I normally go for, and the lyrics sound like they’ve come straight out of the 1984 lyric generator, but it is has a tender charm that is quite irresistable. And it has a cute talky bit at the beginning and I’m always a sucker for that.

Listen – Redwoods

This is Hayward’s new single, and it’s more of a folk rocking rootsy stomper (technical term, obviously). It’s a bit Whiskeytown, more melodic Wilco, maybe a bit Springsteen; I’d recommend it for the harmonica action alone.

Buy the new album, Another Sailor’s Dream, here

More information on his website, or have a squizz at the ubiquitous MySpace.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In Search of Nic Jones

If you haven't already done so, go over to Time Has Told Me's Nic Jones post and download the album from the comments, then leave a nice comment yourself. I've posted about Nic's folk mastery here before - a great start to the day.

(the download is a rapidshare job, free but laborious.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

No River City

I first heard of No River City when I went to see my lovely friend Mel in Wilmington a couple of years back - Mel had sought it out their first album, This Is Our North Dakota, after hearing a track on a Magnet CD sampler, and I did just the same when I got back home.

The album is full of beautiful songs of big skies, small towns, desolation and darkness. Very lonesome boy/girl harmonies, lap steel and a cello.

Listen – Broken Lines
Listen – Last Thing I Remember

There is a second album out soon – although this had nearly passed me by as the band are criminally unsigned. Hurrah for the internet. The band has a new line up – they’ve expanded into a band proper (albeit without a bass) and the sound has filled out a bit, too. It’s a bit more rootsy and veers into proper country territory without losing its pathos. Quite a delight. Have a listen:

Listen – Jacy Farrow
Listen – Sad Horses

The new album, Wolves and Fishes, is out soon – it’s on sale at the shows now.
Buy This Is Our North Dakota, or pre-order the new one, from the marvellous Miles of Music. It looks like both are even part of their ‘it’s a cracker’ deal – so no excuses.

Read an extraordinarily honest biography on their official website.
There's another song and info on their MySpace page, if you’re that way inclined.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Leatherbag - Tennessee

Looking at the photographs on the inside of the CD, it takes a lot of musicians to help make Leatherbag (him in the photo) to make music this sparse. Leatherbag play with the slow motion of an acoustic Codeine, bringing to mind Spain's magnificent first album with added Nebraska/Tom Joad Springsteen, a little Spiritualized, the sparsity of Plush's More becomes you, more than a touch of early Dylan and the pacing of early Red House Painters. 'Cellos wheeze, guitars strum and you'll think 'I've heard this somewhere before, that chord change is verging on the cliched' and you'll find yourself humming it later today, if not by the second chorus.

Listen: Leatherbag - Tennessee


Buy it

Saturday, June 09, 2007

American Music Club - Why won't you stay

Sad news according to the AMC website 'Danny and Tim have left AMC - Mark and Vudi have decided to base the band out of Los Angeles and it wasn't going to work as Danny and Tim have kids. Recording commences soon.' I'm left wondering how that will sound, given that (in my mind at least) they've always been an SF band.

Taken from my favorite AMC album, this track comes courtesy of IODA PROMONET, whose enlightened approach to mp3 blogs has enabled me to filch some of their bandwidth as long as I include at least one link to their (US) places to buy. So if you haven't listened to any of the two or three times I must have posted this since we started then come and get it. They do need bigger images - the album cover is from amazon because 60 by 60 was too small to see the leopard's spots.

Download "Why Won't You Stay"
(mp3) from "Everclear" by American Music Club (Alias)

if you're in the US or use these services you can get the whole album here:
More On This Album (although not much more)

Buy it

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Some more Whiskeytown

Ryan Adams is all over the place at the moment, quite possibly in every sense. He’s on tour at the moment - has anyone seen him yet? – and he’s certainly doing the rounds. In the last week alone, I’ve heard him range from tired and indifferent to passionate and, frankly, a bit wild on Geek FM, Radio 2 and even good old (non-music) Radio 4.

Lots has already been said about the upcoming release of Easy Tiger and bits and pieces have been posted up all over the place. Whilst I’m looking forward to the new release, to be honest, I’m just delighted that it gives me the opportunity to post up some more Whiskeytown. Anyone who has been hanging round here for more than five minutes knows how much I love this band.

So, as a riposte to all the scratchy outtakes and foreshortened new stuff that’s doing the rounds, here’s one from 1997’s Stranger’s Almanac. This album has been keeping me company for a decade now and I can probably sing most of it off by heart. And it really is off by heart, not from memory. There’s a difference. Particularly like the vocals and the brass on this one.

Listen - Whiskeytown - Everything I Do

Do yourself a favour and buy it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Beach Boys - Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)

The lure of the sun prised me away from my desk and into town at lunchtime today. One of the shops was playing Pet Sounds - it is, after all, an album that is part of the sound of summer - and I found myself hanging around until it was time for Don't Talk. It had quite an effect on me when it did come on. It is just such a beautiful song, quite incredible and probably my favourite one from Pet Sounds. (Fighting talk, that, in some circles).

I'll leave it to Howard to talk about the musicality of it as he's far more qualified. It simply intrigues me - I can't work out how it is so densely arranged and yet sounds so effortless. Or how it can be quite short but feel like a whole symphony. A treat.

Listen, listen, listen: The Beach Boys - Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)

On the off chance that you don't already own it, buy it.
Read all about it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Jenny Owen Youngs - Fuck Was I

This exceptionally sweary song didn't go down too well when it showed up as my currently playing selection whilst in a business meeting using messenger. Oops. Apparently this has been on the TV, not sure where, but not whlst I've been watching. It didn't matter that it was a country song, with 'cellos sung in reflective style by a woman, I might as well have been listening to GG Allin or GWAR. Anyhow, if you're work firewall doesn't somehow screw with the links (or block this site from now on) you too can enjoy the song (just remember to hide your currently playing widget, or as I have done, put a filter on the swear words).

Listen: Jenny Owen Youngs - Fuck Was I

Buy it