Friday, April 25, 2008

Giant Bear

Let's have some cello-soaked melancholic americana for Friday, shall we? You know we're suckers for a bit of string action.

I've been meaning to post this lot up since last year and shame on me for not doing so earlier.

Giant Bear seem to be a collective of musicians and lost souls who make songs that manage to be both boot stomping and whimsical at the same time. It's like No River City meets Drive By Truckers by way of Nickel Creek. On the set of Earl. All in all, a rollicking good time.

Listen: Giant Bear - Devil on the Wall

Listen: Giant Bear - Nashville

Plenty more songs on the official site.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Saddest Music In the World

Meanwhile over at Canada's magazine of the year The Walrus, they have a piece on The Saddest Music In the World with some great tracks to listen to.
We on the other hand are interested in lonesomeness.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Angus and Julia Stone - A Book Like This

Angus and Julia Stone are siblings from Sydney who make a really quite glorious sound, full of harmony, harmonica, steel guitar, brushed drums and, oh yes, a trumpet. I went to see them a couple of nights ago and came away quite smitten.

It's reminiscent of the delights of Ella Guru, with a boy/girl, folky multi-instrumental thing going on. What makes them stand out is that they are two concomitant halves and contribute equally to a kind of organic sounding whole. There's a real difference in the vocals - Angus is subtle and understated, whereas Julia is much more distinctive, with even a teeny tiny touch of Cranes (although in a totally charming and non-irritating way, promise). Oh, and he's the one with the beard.

This will soothe, charm and cheer you. Enjoy.

Listen: Angus and Julia Stone - Here We Go Again

Listen: Angus and Julia Stone - Bella

Do go and see them, highly recommended. Really, who can argue with a barefoot beauty in a tea dress, who also happens to play the trumpet? You'll swoon.

The album's not out here yet, but buy a copy at a gig like me, or from the official site, or if you can't help yourself, get it from Aussie resellers on amazon.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Malcolm Middleton - Love comes in waves

I've been listening to Malcolm's new album Sleight of Heart quite a lot this week. I was never really a fan of Arab Strap, but I've liked Malcolm's solo efforts.

This interview in the Londonist with Malcolm Middleton makes me like him even more. I like the honesty about his musical background, especially as the album has some of the fanciest fingerpicked guitar I've heard laid quite that bare in a long time. John Renbourn/Bert Jansch standard performances with non of that widdly Windham Hill nonsense. Here's a long track that shouldn't be dismissed in the first few seconds, there's a jouney to be gone on here, one worth taking.

Listen: Malcolm Middleton - Love comes in waves

Buy it


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Justin Rutledge - This too will pass

The yearning, that feeling that somehow makes desire seem too weak a term. Whether it's a material possession or someone, you are consumed with thoughts of possession, of ownership, of the happiness that will surely come your way if you give into temptation and spend the money, show your hand or some other part of your anatomy. But the rational side of you knows that it's best to hold tight to the arms of the chair like an astronaut in take-off, hanging on until they break free of the atmosphere, that this too will pass. Just lately I've been asked too many times to just go with my emotional and not my rational responses, I don't think psychiatry was built for the English, therapy certainly wasn't.

From his Man Descending album, here's Justin Rutledge. He's out supporting Kathleen Edwards, so you might see him live before I do.

Listen: Justin Rutledge - This too will pass

Buy it for an extortionate amount from amazon (or get it cheaper when it gets an offical UK release)


Monday, April 07, 2008

Carrie Rodriguez

I can't remember who recommended Carrie Rodriguez's album Seven Angels on a Bicycle to me, maybe I found it through the BBC, perhaps even one of those lists on Amazon. If it was someone that reads this blog I'd like to say thankyou.

The album has way more lonesome highlights than I feel comfortable posting here, so I'm just going to give you a flavour - you can hear it streaming at her website.

There's some wonderfully atmospheric guitar, sultry vocals and some barnstorming fiddle playing that brings to mind Lucinda Williams' fantastic Essence, but holds its own in terms of songs, which I think is a pretty big recommendation. The production is buffed to a high sheen, the arrangements tight as a gnat's chuff but there's enough redeeming realism and grit in each song to stop it becoming overly syrupy. The track 'Dirty leather' even manages to rewrite the velvet underground's venus in furs for a country audience and the skronking sax solos don't bring to mind either the musical crimes of the eighties or free jazz, for which I am very, very grateful. Enjoy.

Listen: Carrie Rodriguez - Seven Angels on a Bicycle
Listen: Carrie Rodriguez - He ain't Jesus


That's an epiphone mandobird she's playing there btw.

Much to my surprise John sent a nice email yesterday with the following update:
"Carrie's new album, She Ain’t Me will be mastered today in NYC. It will be released in the US and Canada on August 5th via Manhattan/BackPorch (EMI) & early next year in the UK, Europe, and Australia. Lucinda adds background vocals to a song (Carrie also played & sang background vocals on a track for Lucinda’s forthcoming new album, also coming out this August – I believe)."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Throw Those Curtains Wide, One Day Like This a Year'd See Me Right

Just back from seeing Elbow and feel the need to share what I've learnt tonight:

- The Seldom Seen Kid is an even better album than you think it is
- Even in person, Richard Hawley feels a bit like an intruder
- The mirrorballs at the Poly can be really quite majestic
- Leeds loves Guy Garvey and he fucking loves us back
- We all know the words to 'I am H.A.P.P.Y'
- A surge of huge goodwill in the audience, miles away from the usual indie nonchalance, coupled with a sufficient amount of Guinness, make a snowy Sunday night seem quite magical
- Bowman is a fucking idiot
- Guy Garvey, in case you hadn't noticed, is a superstar.

Listen: Elbow - One Day Like This

Buy the latest album now; or just do yourself a huge favour and buy them all.

Easy like a Sunday morning

Tea, toast and something easy on the ears, please. Sunday mornings call for a particular kind of song, don't they? And these three do just the job. I don't have anything wise or witty to say about any of them, other than to recommend them as a good company for tea drinking, paper reading or kitchen dancing.

Listen: Dave Morrison - Times Like These

Listen: Rob Laufer - Backseat

Listen: Shane Alexander - Amsterdam

Buy Dave Morrison, Rob Laufer, or Shane Alexander