If you asked anyone two weeks ago who Vance Joy was, no one would have a clue. However last week saw the release of his debt EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing and he has since generated a huge amount of attention. The Australian artist has managed to tap into that niche of music which people are ever hungry for. His sound is a mix of Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons; let’s hope he doesn’t follow in the same steps as the latter.
Two tracks are publicly released, From Afar and Riptide both equally enjoyable. There are two reasons I’m going to post Riptide: Firstlybecause it’s so bloody good and I’m sure you’ll love it. Secondly because it’s so damn catchy and like me, I want you all to be cursed with it playing in your head for the next few days. Enjoy.
Directing duo Karni and Saul have collaborated with The Staves to create an absolutely stunning video for the first single from their debut album Dead & Born & Grow (November 2012). It’s wonderfully organic with a mix of techniques including hand drawn imagery and flash animation and gives a brilliant sense of depth and although the woodcut style is obviously an influence it apparently contains no stop-frame animation. It’s a very literal take on the subject and its beautiful animation and quirky characters are charming to behold.
The Staves are off on tour shortly with dates primarily across the UK, with a few European ones thrown in for good measure. Follow this link for a full list. Their debut is out now through Atlantic Records, available in all the usual places.
Being a Dylan fan I couldn’t resist from sharing this very nice cover of Boots of Spanish Leather by The Lumineers. One of the wonderful things about Dylan’s ballads is how approachable they are to cover by other artists – providing they can step up to the mark.
Similar to Dylan’s version from the landmark album The Times They Are a-Changin (1964), The Lumineers opted to record their version solo with an acoustic guitar. The Lumineers had a fairytale of a year in 2012 with chart topping singles and sell out tours. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more from them soon.
Until then, enjoy Wesley Schultz dusty vocals in this live recording. It’s good, but still doesn’t beat my all time favourite cover of Moonshiner by Bob Forest which featured in the film I’m Not There (2007).
So here we are with the final four albums of our twelve that make up the Universal Wax top 12 of ’12. This time it’s Toms selection which is as broad as ever and features some really fantastic records. I couldn’t agree more with the inclusion of the Journey OST which has been one of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard for a long time and as any long time readers may recall we’re already big Andrew Bird fans here at Universal Wax. This will be our final post of 2012, however we’ll be following this one up in the new year with our notable mentions (those that didn’t quite make our top twelve) and some upcoming artists to look out for in 2013. In the meantime, from all at Universal Wax, we hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and are about to have a fantastic New Year, enjoy our now complete Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12 and let us know what you think in the comments below! – Sam
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!
Sometime in June, before summer had sunk its teeth in, Woods announced their new album, Bend Beyond. Much excitement instantly circulated the alternative-folk scene; their track record has been consistently strong. Sun and Shade which was released last year was a personal favorite, and reassured the fans they were still on the right track.
Firstly, let me begin by saying Bend Beyond will not let you down. It’s a highly enjoyable, and extremely well executed album which demonstrates a maturity in both the songwriting and the production – which fits perfectly. The lo-fi indie-folk band from Brooklyn have a distinct sound, predominantly down to Jeremy Earl’s vocals, which this time round acquire a clarity like never before. It’s this factor for me that makes Bend Beyond different. Not only can you appreciate the layers of instruments that create their psychedelic sound, but the vocals are refined to the point where you can listen and enjoy the lyrics on a level which you couldn’t do before.
The first track, Bend Beyond sends you back to the woods, with their familiar riffs and guitar solos. It’s the longest track on the album, and paces itself nicely. It sets the tone that Woods is a band, not just Jeremy Earl. The second track, Cali in a Cup was in fact an early release, and has a nostalgic Super 8 music video to accompany it. This song is a prime example of the high quality production value they’ve got going.
One of my all time favorite songs by Woods was the final track on their last album, Say Goodbye. The gently strummed, stripped down style is apparent in a couple of tracks in Bend Beyond, most notably in It Ain’t Easy. It’s a moment of calm that engages you with the simpler harmonies and lyrics that Woods are so good at writing. It’s as essential as the much expected instrumental jams which remind you these guys are having fun making this music.
My top picks from the album would be, Back to the Stone and Is it Honest?, both encompass all that there is to love about Woods. The album is released as of today, and is available on iTunes.
Cali in a Cup
Is it Honest?
It Ain’t Easy
Back to the Stone
Find Them Empty
Wind Was the Wine
Size Meets the Sound
Here is Cali in a Cup and a few others to get you back in the zone.
Chris Helme returns with The Rookery, the follow up to the 2008 excellent long player Ashes. Helme is most famous for being the frontman in the post Stone Roses band The Seahorses created by John Squire. Squire had found Helme when one of his longtime guitar technicians discovered him busking outside a shop in York city center. The Seahorses released their album Do It Yourself in 1997 and instantly shot to fame on the back of the then flourishing britpop scene and the prominence granted by John Squire being in the band. After three hit singles and two years of successful touring the band fragmented whilst writing their second album, mainly due to clashes between Helme and Squire over the new material.
Now with the legacy of The Seahorses fading, especially with the reformation of the Stone Roses getting so much attention, it is great to see Helme forging ahead with his solo career.
Returning with a beautiful and more mature tone, the new album follows on from Ashes with a dreamy indie-folk sound, slightly reminiscent of The Coral and early Gomez. The opening track is the instrumental Pickled Ginger, an almost perfect piece of english folk leaving the britpop days of The Seahorses as a distant memory. As the album grows, simple arrangements are bolstered with the gentle use of a string quartet and confident songwriting.
The track Plane demonstrates this beautifully and is a highlight of the first part of the album, showcasing Helme’s soulful vocal talent.
Listen to a clip of Plane below:
This is then followed by the excellent The Spindle And The Cauldron which adds a hint of early Led Zeppelin to the mix, with suitable melancholic vocals about an ethereal mysterious girl at his window.
Listen to a clip of The Spindle And The Cauldron below:
The track Pleased steers the sound in a further bluesy direction with Daddies Farm adding a upbeat edge to proceedings and Set In Stone bringing back the subtle orchestration. The rich layered production of the whole album really compliments Helme’s vocals and it’s amazing to believe that the whole record was produced in just nine days in the Yorkshire dales.
This is a great album, a gentle, laid back journey, expertly crafted with a good mix of soulful ballads and melodic acoustic rock – all held together with some thoughtful lyrics and excellent vocal talent.
The Rookery is out now and is availble to buy direct from Greedbag and iTunes
Helme has also announced a series of gigs around the country and is well worth seeing live. More information at chrishelme.co.uk
Sep 2nd – Alt.Fest, Fulford Arms, York
Sep 6th – Fulford Arms, York (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
Sep 7th – Ku Bar, Stockton (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
Sep 8th – The Acoustic Gathering, Scarborough
Sep 21st – Burns, Irvine
Oct 2nd – Surya, Kingscross, London
Oct 7th – Rock Your Mind Festival, Middlesbrough
Oct 12th – Kings Hall, Herne Bay (with Simon & Oscar of Ocean Colourscene)
Nov 3rd – Venue Cymru, Cardiff
Nov 4th – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
Nov 9th – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Nov 10th – Tollbooth, Stirling
Nov 23rd – The Square, Harlow (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
Dec 22nd – Cumbernauld Town Hall, Cumbernauld, Scotland (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
“No time to rest. I’m gonna find me a life, baby, way out west”
After the success of his previous two EP’s, Ben Schneider a.k.a Lord Huron is now set to release his first album. Since the announcement of Lonesome Dreams (2012), a handfull of videos, images and songs and have been released on his website, giving us a glimpse of what is to come.
His previous EP’s have all been complimented with distinct and tasteful artwork, and this seems evident in his new release too. Currently on his website are grainy teaser videos of deserts and dense forests accompanied by excerpts of music from the album. There’s no doubt Lord Huron has adopted a Western theme, with grubby cowboys in bandanas and Mexicans tied up with knives to their throats. Red Dead inspired perhaps?
What’s most exciting is the full track he’s released called Time To Run, which is also free to download. Lord Huron has a knack for creating atmospheric, well paced songs that keep your finger hovering over the repeat button, and this track does exactly that. Lonesome Dreams is set to be released on October 9th but until then here’s Time To Run, and also one of his hit tracks from his previous EPs Mighty called, The Stranger.
“Grand and transcendent… the layers of beautiful sound, homage to Japanese culture, and use of violin make 151a a dreamy, pocket-sized symphony, perfect for anyone needing a lift.” BUST
This artist has jumped to the top of my ‘most played’ this summer. Kishi Bashi, aka K Ishibashi is a solo artist who has toured with the likes of Of Montreal, and is also a founder of the NY indie rock band, Jupiter One. Now going solo, K Ishibashi has produced something fresh, new and wonderfully weird. From listening to the first intro track on his debt album, 151a, you wouldn’t expect what would follow.
It’s electronic, folky, classical – a tornado of musical goodness that’s entertaining from the beginning to end. Drawing from his classical routes as a violinist, K Ishibashi conjures a melody of genres, which I can only compare to an artist such as Animal Collective. He mixes up English and Japanese in his lyrics, which add to the sometimes manic feel to the songs. The transition from each track to the next leaves you wanting more of his feel-good musical world he creates.
The birth of this album was conceived through a Kickstarter campaign - a site where entrepreneurs, filmmakers, musicians etc pitch their project and rely on the support of the public to donate money to fund it. Ishibashi’s target was $12,000, and within three weeks he raised $20,000, an impressive achievement, and one that paid off. Since the album’s release in April, Ishibashi has been impressing critics and the public with his live loop-based performances.
“The way I create my loops, I just kind of — they’re not exact. So a lot of it has to do with a feeling and it might be faster, I also like changing things up, so I’ll change things and kind of make it different, and I also like the audience to have a different experience.” KISHI BASHI – RIVERFRONT TIMES
The album is diverse and unexpected. It paints a picture of both joy and melancholy, and it leaves you feeling great. Ishibashi is currently on tour around the US, and is yet to pencil in anything for Europe. You can get your hands on his album here.