Sweeping, cinematic, vibrant, beautiful, epic, delicate, bold, calm, majestic. It’s pretty easy to roll off a list of adjectives for this absolutely wonderful record as Rhian Sheehan returns with the impossibly beautiful and uncompromisingly compelling Stories from Elsewhere. Continue reading
I was first introduced to the music of Woodkid on a trailer for the video game Assassin’s Creed Revelations; the sound was a perfect mix of polished pop, fused with a sophisticated orchestral sound. The Golden Age, Woodkid’s debut album follows a similar theme – creating a wholly cinematic experience.
It is no wonder that the music is so visual; the french musician behind the pseudonym Woodkid – Yoann Lemoine’s own path to music was first through graphic design then directing music videos for artists including Moby, Mystery Jets, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Drake and Rihanna. After being given a banjo by guitarist Richie Havens during a shoot the classically trained Lemoine decided to move in to making music full time and Woodkid was born. Continue reading
It doesn’t feel too long ago now that Black Sands (March 2010) released to a wonderful reception from fans and critics alike and pushed Bonobo even further to success supported by a truly brilliant live set and extensive touring. Now just three years later Simon Green returns with another step forward for his sound and what will in all likelihood be one of the best releases in downtempo electronic music this year. Continue reading
After last week’s speculation, the new album from My Bloody Valentine not only exists, it’s available right now! The long awaited follow up to 1991s Loveless, is named simply mbv, the album was launched at midnight on Saturday 2nd February. The album is exclusively available through the band’s website – after initially crashing, due to load, the site is now back up and running.
Much time has passed since the release of the critically hailed Loveless, rumours of whole albums worth of material that have been recorded then subsequently scrapped by the band have surfaced over the years.
As part of the extensive reissuing of The Smashing Pumpkins back catalogue, we now come to the 4th album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. This follows Gish (1991) and Siamese Dream (1993) last year and Pisces Iscariot (1994) reissued during the summer. As per the previous reissues, the release of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness has been remastered from the original studio tapes and has a wealth of additional material bundled with it. Continue reading
Poppy Ackroyd has had a busy year it would seem. Many will know her as the talented violinist and pianist of the Hidden Orchestra whose superb second album launched in September to a positive review from us, however there appears to be a lot more to her than that. The classically trained Edinburgh based musician is now close to the release of her debut solo effort Escapement (due December 2012). A heartbreakingly beautiful record of intricate and very delicate compositions made exclusively, bar the odd field recording here and there, using the piano and the violin. It’s a wonderful idea and is executed to perfection to the point if you weren’t aware this was the case you probably wouldn’t question it. Continue reading
Andrew Bird’s distinct sound is the reason why I remember first listening to his track A Nervous Tic back when I was 18. Earlier this year his much anticipated album Break it Yourself valiantly galloped its way through music stores and blogs leaving dust clouds of positive reviews. Click here to check out Sam’s review of it.
Andrew Bird has been touring through the summer, and due to the highly positive response to his performances, he decided to record a mixture of reprises from Break it Yourself, along with a few classic Americana folk songs that he had performed. The result is Hands of Glory, another satisfying hit of Andrew Bird goodness.
From the age of 4, he’s been plucking and playing the violin, and so without making obvious comment to the beauty of it in his previous work; getting to hear him cover classic folks songs – especially, If I Needed You makes this compilation extra special. The rendition of Orpheo is another favorite, it’s completely stripped and played so slow that every word and creak of the bow lends itself to producing a more delicate and soothing song.
You can listen to the whole album on the Guardian website here. It’s a great collection of songs that make the perfect soundtrack to your Autumn walks. My only criticism is that I wish at least one track had him whistling!
- Three White Horses
- When That Helicopter Comes
- Railroad Bill
- Something Biblical
- If I Needed You
- Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses
Midnight Sun – Isaac Delusion
“Isaac Delusion is about two multidisciplinary artists continually exploring new musical landscapes”. This is where techno and folk meet and produce super cool riffs complimented by smooth non obtrusive vocals. It’s going to take a while before I get bored of this track. Their EP Midnight Sun was released this year, and will be closely followed by their second, Early Morning which is soon to be released.
Alone - Trampled By Turtles
Trampled By Turtles are set to release their 6th album in November called Stars and Satellites. With their highly successful track record in the Bluegrass scene there’s no doubt it’ll be a hit. Following the formulas of traditional folk and fiddle songs, and using a wide range of instruments their sound is timeless and full of soul.
Tomorrow – Future Islands
This artist has quickly become one of my favorites; I could imagine them being a product of David Lynch. I like to think Sam Herring’s voice is a mixture of Tom Waits and Cat Stevens. The band have very recently released a 7″ single, after their successful album, On The Water (2012). The deep repetitive beats and synthy swirls – not to mention Sam’s scream-like roar half way through makes this song as wonderfully weird as the rest of their stuff.
Old Friend – Sea Wolf
Alex Church has been recording under the name Sea Wolf since 2003, and has been successfully pioneering the solo project since. He has a new album that’s yet to be released called Old World Romance and is currently on tour in the states. This track, Our Friend, is a sneak peak of what’s to come from the new album – and it’s very exciting.
Black & White Mountains – Snowblink
Daniela Gesundheit AKA Snowblink has an extremely listenable voice. It’s the simplicity of this track that had me hooked. Delicate layers of beats and synths overlaid with vocals which sound a bit like Amiee Mann make it so enjoyable.
Can’t Get Enough - The Sweet Serenades
I love the voice at the beginning of this song, it sounds like a burp. A band that’s descibed as, “Hip swaying, knee twisting, & finger snapping goodness”, this is a good wake up and walk to work track. The Swedish band’s manifesto of creating ‘unpretentious pop songs that make you feel cool’, doesn’t let you down here.
These Days (Jackson Browne) – Pandit
Pop tunes infused with ambient and experimental texture, Pandit is the work of Lance Smith. I haven’t heard a bad song from this guy, and considering These Days is one of my favorite songs, Pandit’s cover is spot on. He has a new EP coming out at the end of the month, so keep an eye out for that.
Hang on to Me (Daytrotter) - The Wooden Sky
I’m a huge fan of the Daytrotter Sessions, they often bring out better, more heartfelt sounding recordings than the originals. This is definitely the case with this Wooden Sky track. Taken from their latest album, Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun (2012), Hang on to Me is just one of the many great tracks from the album.
Jitter – Dakotafish
Their synth-pop beats have a similar sound to Pheonix. This track is taken from the 2011 album, Many Moons. It’s a good track to stick on as a party winds down and the sun rises.
Miracle (Ghost Beach Cover) – TRAILS AND WAYS
Here’s something different; Brazilian shoegaze. I actually prefer this version of the track to the original Ghost Beach track. Covers can often come off as sounding like the original with less instruments and slightly awkward vocals, but when a band gets it right – it can transform a song into their own which is exactly what they’ve done.
New Theory – Washed OutSince 2009, Ernest Greene’s project has received a constant stream of positive reviews. This track, New Theory comes from his first EP, Life of Leisure which launched him. 2011 saw the release of Within and Without, his first full length album which received startling reviews all round.
Utah - All Human
This is a random Bandcamp find, with similar vibes to Imaginary Johnny, this is an easy song to get into. He’s currently touring the states with his new album, Catholic Guilt or the Queerest of Thoughts.
Wally Wilder - Delicate Steve
Steve Marion has flooded blogs recently with Positive Force. His music sounds as though he wrote lyrics and then decided the guitar should sing them. It’s cocktail of Ratatat and Animal Collective.
Golden Palms – HORSES / Bronson
Short and sweet, this track encompasses all that’s great about low-fi songwriting. Although it seems Patrick Ebermann’s project HORSES has evaporated. Now appearing under the name Bronson, the album Paper Tusk was released in 2011 and Golden Palms on this is different to the original – a bit overworked in my opinion. Here’s the original.
Little Dreamer (Future Islands Cover) – Doe Paoro
This one’s a grower, resist yourself from skipping it before the first minute. The sparse piano and seldom drums slowly intwine themselves into a beautiful melody which Doe Paoro sings through. The original song naturally has unusual vocals from Sam Herring, and so this Kate Bush sounding twist fits perfectly.
Says Elliott – Sibylle Baier
Sibylle Baier is a German folk singer, she sounds like a sad Nico – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. I love this song, its intimate sound makes you hang on every word. She’s quite a mysterious person, the homepage of her website reads:
I (her son Robby) set this site up for my mother…Sibylle will most likely never see this site. She is really quite perplexed by all the attention that her album “Colour Green” has gotten. My father keeps telling her about all the pages and articles that are out there, but she, though smitten, prefers to hear about her accolades through the eyes and ears of her family. The web makes her dizzy, I think.
Incendiary blues rock band The Jim Jones Revue have burst back with their third album The Savage Heart. Continue reading
Like Nightwalks before it, Archipelago is a triumphant body of work with rich and detailed production, soaring instrumentation and a staunch visual identity complimenting it’s predecessor and reaffirming Joe Acheson as a master of his craft. Straddling jazz, electronic, ambient, hip-hop and classical as before, It’s also a considerably more varied effort with tracks that shake off the darker claustrophobic atmosphere of Nightwalks and open up to a wider, reenergised and genuinely further refined record.
Overture confidently opens the album with cuts from the rest of the record making fleeting appearances and building into a full track before debut single Spoken brings it down and starts all over again. It is an incredibly evocative piece with field recordings from the Outer Hebrides complimenting the record sleeves beautiful etched visuals. It’s this level of thoughtfulness that separate the Hidden Orchestra from their peers. The tracks run like the tides, building up and receding gracefully with layer upon layer being introduced and creating a bold tension; the dual drum kits playing off each other, teasing and coaxing the music forward. It’s brilliantly clever stuff and a pleasure to listen to, this isn’t a record to be relegated to background music but one to take the time to learn its nuances and be utterly absorbed by.
It’s varied throughout with other double AA single Vorka being positively playful and contrasting with tracks such as Reminder which have distinctly darker tones before straying close to a sound reminiscent of ex label mate Bonobo on Seven Hunters. It’s also worth mentioning Archipelago is overflowing with guest talent. Czech musician/composer Floex joins cellist Su-a Lee, Mary MacMaster and Phil Cardwell who accompany core members Joe Acheson, Poppy Graham, Tim Lane and Jamie Graham. Each bring their own element to Archipelago and sound perfectly suited.
On its own Archipelago is an absolutely fantastic record. Executed with both skillful musicianship and talented song writing it is without a doubt one of the more beautiful, poetic and downright cinematic albums you will hear this year; however taken as a companion to Nightwalks it really shines as one of the most focused and exciting records on the UK music scene. You could accuse the Hidden Orchestra of staying a little too true to their template but think of the considered evolution of their sound combined with Joe Achesons overall vision for Hidden Orchestra and it brings the tantalising imagery of the greatest trilogies of our culture to mind. Let’s hope this is the Hidden Orchestras Empire Strikes Back and not the Godfather Part II (we all know where that trilogy went after that).