Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hem - the part where you let go

Hem will always have a special place in my heart - the one they share with the cowboy junkies' first two albums. The purity of the voice and the subtle male vocal that underpins it along with the frightening musicianship make listening at once comforting and faintly nostalgic.

Listen: hem - The part where you let go

I'm not sure where you can buy the EP from, but there's more info here

I bought the album this comes from (Bavarian Fruit Bread) for my wife years ago, but I don't think she's given it much of a listen, she prefers the Mazzy star of among my swan. Since my son was born we haven't had a lot of trouble going to sleep, so listening opportunities for albums are limited to those moments when you need to hear Ride it On one more time, or marvel in the shimmy of the only truly gothic tambourine I can think of. My wife and I saw them at the Union Chapel in Islington, London - a cavernous church, in which they made a lovely sound whilst Hope hid behind her hair.

Listen: Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions feat. Bert Jansch - Butterfly Mornings

Buy it

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A little Porter, a little Dolly

Enough with the redemption, how about a song written by Johnny Cash about his/Porter's stay in the Parkview asylum? Porter Wagoner's new(ish) album - the wagonmaster plays it straight, there are no concessions to Cash-style covers of recent songs. The few spoken asides and stories do nothing but add to the last man standing status Porter has. I find myself thinking it's a shame he doesn't make some new songs his own because he's still in fine voice, he has the gravitas to carry it off and he's very obviously still an entertainer. Stubborn to the end and I wouldn't really want it any other way.

Tricky to see on such a small scale, but that's Porter there in the blue -click to enlarge a bit (thanks Mel for your holiday snaps!)

Listen: Porter Wagoner - Committed to Parkview

Buy it


Spot the difference: likeness

It doesn't seem fair to link Porter and Dolly together for the rest of their lives. I can think of a few old acquaintances from way-back I'd rather not be spoken of in the same breath. That is however not going to stop me posting my favorite track from Halos and Horns. When I first heard this I mistook it to be a frank acceptance of her not having children herself, but reading her explanation of the song makes it from a time that that probably wasn't her intention.

..It’s at least 35 years old, but it’s never been on a record. ..It had to have been right when I first came to Nashville [in 1964], because there were other songs on that tape that were written before I even left home.

Listen: Dolly Parton - Not for me

Buy it

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Welcome to the thousands of new readers we appear to have gained from blogsofnote.blogspot.com.

I was talking to Beth about the soulsavers album the other day, we both agreed that we hadn't given it enough time. Well it's been on repeat most of the weekend and although far from perfect (it has a few tracks that sound too much like the Sopranos theme and there's not enough pedal steel), it contains some absolutely great songs - uplifting, joyous even but always tinged with regret. When I first heard Revival I realised it was the best songs I'd heard all year, sounding like REM's sublime Country Feedback (that's those Em, G, D, C cowboy chords, no we won't be tabbing any songs) with Mark Lanegan singing a Spiritualized tune.

Listen: soulsavers - revival
Listen: soulsavers - spiritual

Buy it

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Midlake - Bloody Marvellous

I went to see Midlake at a packed Irish Centre last night - great mixed audience, including whole families, indie kids and lots of beards. I think it is the best gig I've been to this year so far. I was trepidatious about how they would manage to recreate their big and dense sound live, but they completely blew my socks off. So much noise from one little stage. Superb harmonies, twirly bits, only one guitar solo and all manner of banter - it was ace. They've reclaimed the Chemical Brothers song that Tim Smith has contributed vocals to - The Pills Won't Help You (lots of versions doing the rounds on hype machine) and very lovely it was too. And best of all, they seem like a smashing bunch of lads - they even said that they'd done the bingo earlier on that afternoon.

Listen: Midlake - van Occupanther
Listen: Midlake - Branches


Buy The Trials of Van Occupanther

Andrew Bird was one of the supporting acts - his Roger Whitaker/Rufus Wainwright/KT Tunstall/Jeff Buckley mix (yes really) got a mixed reaction from the crowd. I've given the album a few listens but certainly couldn't eat a whole one live. Go and sample it for yourself over at Speed of Dark.

And if you like the Midlake track, give this a whilrl and let me know if you can hear the link my brain made. **Warning - no steel guitar**

Listen - The Divine Comedy - When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mandolin goodness - Chris Thile solo album

Kicking myself for not seeing Nickel Creek live, I sought solace in Chris Thile's latest solo album called How to Grow a Woman from the Ground. Not being familiar with his personal situation I'd say it's fairly definitely a breakup record. The mandolin is positively restrained in places, beautifully played but imbued with a melancholy typified by the track posted below.

Listen: Chris Thile - You're an Angel, and I'm Gonna Cry

Buy it