Get on down with some of my favourite Youtube videos in my 100th ever post.
Shane Macgowan and pals do Screamin' Jaw Hawkins' 'I Put A Spell On You' for Haiti...
Gotta love Kings of Leon. In the run up to the release of their fourth album, 'Only By The Night', the Kings posted trailer clips of the making, here's one I particularly enjoyed...
Bon Iver on Letterman, genius...
Two Gallants seem to have vanished but here is one of their finest...'Steady Rollin''.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Released March 8 2010
One Little Indian
Back for her eighth studio album, Kathryn Williams is continuing to push the folk boat further downstream by offering a dignified and easy listening sound with the first single to be taken from ‘The Quickening’.
Williams has continued her long term writing collaboration with David Scott for the current album and ‘50 White Lines’ twists tales of life on the road, wistfully gazing at cities gone by with a lazy undertone as she croons: “I can drive through this town and I can vanish.”
It’s all rather nice if it wasn’t for the infernal back chat of the counting male in the back of the mix, slowly making his way up to “50 White Lines” to mar the effective xylophone, vocals and guitar which are ambient enough in themselves to carry you through.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Released 15th Feb 2010
In the first of a New Wave to New Beat series this compilation floats back to the period when punk was on its way out and a new wave of artists were experimenting in radical new approaches that would shape the sound of the 80s.
It was a time when Gary Numan and leather trousers became cool with the electronic pop of Tubeway Army’s ‘Replicas’ laying down the roots of what would become commercial disco later in the decade. On the other side of the spectrum was the highly influential and ahead of their time Killing Joke who provided the ‘sounds of the squats’ with their scratchy edge setting them apart from previous punk bands.
It was a new time for music after punk had dominated the preceding years, taking the attention away from psychedlia and progressive rock bands to pave the way forward any kid who wanted to pick up a guitar.
Bustin’ Out: The Post Punk Era 1979-1981delivers the perfect image for this snapshot in time and sews together the sounds of punk, dance and dub from some of the finest songs of this wrongly overlooked era. Mike Maguire (who put this disc together) says it makes a rigid stand against the pigeonholing of bands and for that he deserves credit but it is the artists here who the praise must be lavished on. From the Larry Levan remix of Loose Joints’ ‘It’s All Over My Face’ to the dance floor declaration of title track ‘Bustin’ Out’, this music that still sounds fresh and there is no doubt about where is stands in music history.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
With technology on the continual rise it can often be easy to forget where things come from, the same applies to music.
As the world continues to develop with the technological revolution with music at its side, shaping popular culture with the likes of film and television we are constantly inundated with new genres, bands and sounds.
The aim here is to look at some of the artists who shaped music as we know it. Some of these acts are some of the most important people to ever pick up a guitar or tinkle on a piano, others are here on merit, I like them and it’s my playlist so fuck it.
Many of these tracks originate on the back streets of America when delta blues was the toast of the town and primitive recording equipment was all that was available to these artists.
The doo wop swing of ‘Shimmy Like Kate’ from the Olympics who formed back in the early 50s demonstrates this perfectly. It’s music made for knee cracking jiving and party times and has appeared many-a northern soul playlist.
Undoubtedly one of the most important figures in music history is Robert Johnson. If you don’t know the story by now then you should. Depending on which version you prefer most, Johnson took his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation and played through the night. As the night wore on the devil appears and takes his guitar, tunes it and knocks out a few songs before returning it, giving Johnson the mastery of the instrument. There remains much mystery around this blues legend with only two known photographs in existence and a back catalogue of only 29 songs were recorded before the writer died, aged 27, in yet more mystery in 1938. ‘Red Hot’ exhibits why this songwriter is one of the forward thinking artists of all time.
The most modern track on this playlist is ‘Ice Cream Man’ from Tom Waits’ album ‘Closing Time’, back in the days when Waits didn’t sound like Batman having a bad day. ‘Ice Cream Man’ might not even be up there in Waits’ top work but still rings with unprocessed sentiment.
Two other acts to precede the blues revolution were Henry Thomas and Tampa Red. Without artists such as these bands and songwriters such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones along with many other blues guitar legends may never have come to fruition. With the former artists generally regarded as pioneers in their genre and are indisputably some of the most relevant artists in music history, the influence that shines through these acts comes from was laid down before them by artists such as Robert Johnson, Tampa Red and Henry Thomas.
- Shimmy Like Kate – The Olympics
- Red Hot – Robert Johnson
- Ice Cream Man – Tom Waits
- Scat Song – Washboard Rhythm Kings
- Fishing Blues- Henry Thomas
- Black Angel Blues – Tampa Red
- Parachute Woman – The Rolling Stones
- Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
- You Can Never Tell – Chuck Berry
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Released 15 Feb 2010
This London born Irish songwriter has been round the block over the last year. He’s been on the same bills as Plan B, Speech Debelle and Natty on top of other high profile appearances which has resulted in debut single, ‘Sometimes.’
It’s a soulful ride which touches upon childhood dreams and days gone by as the singer/songwriter straddles different genres throughout. The simple acoustic guitar, backed only with a drum beat provides an organic base from which Sabre intelligently crosses different lines with his vocal giving a distinct urban feel to his music.
Sabre laments more youthful days when the song reaches its chorus: “Sometimes we go and forget where we came from,” before taking a slightly more caustic line when he spits: “I hate the Union Jack, I won’t speak for any man or any flag,” to darken the tone of a song full of character.
Undoubtedly one to watch.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
When Carl Woodford swapped Scarborough’s sunny shores for Sheffield’s steel walls to further his finger picking folk mastery he left his roots and where it all began. After beginning to ply his trade in progressive band, Magic Tree, he has now delved deep into the Steel City’s folk underworld as a solo artist in his own right and is now on a mission to find that elusive perfect sound.
As we meet in Sheffield’s Hunters Bar, he’s polite and friendly but doesn’t exude confidence the way his music does, he ponders his answers slowly and mumbles about various live gigs that have gone wrong and wonders whether he’ll entirely beat that bout of stage fright:
“I had a really nightmarish experience on stage last year, I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from it properly, every time I play I can’t help but think about it. There have been some really memorable ones though, last year at the Rude Shipyard was pretty special as it was so close, it was as if it was in someone’s front room.”
Confidence and stage fright haven’t seemed to be a problem in years gone by as his stripped back folk sound has led him to become a regular fixture at Scarborough’s Beached festival and Acoustic Gathering (a festival where the artist plays on a small podium in the middle of a lake while the crowd remains ashore.) As well as smatterings of gigs across the north, including the exceptionally intimate performance at Sheffield’s Rude Shipyard last summer as part of the Tramlines festival, he has also shared bills with some of folk’s elite such as Nick Harper and Vin Garbutt.
Throughout the interview Woodford spins tales of his youth, how his first band started and what has led him down this particular musical road. He’s a deep character and a total perfectionist, he talks of his guitar like it’s a living creature and pays the utmost respect to his instrument by the way he plays, a talent he’s taken over a decade to hone.
Much of the singer/songwriter’s songs are based around tricky finger picking patterns that make your own fingers bleed at the very thought but he has also become known for a strum and drum technique, something which has become somewhat of a highlight in his live shows. ‘Coloured Walls’ has become a particular favourite on the gigging front and showcases a series of abilities from the performer but when asked more about the song Woodford gives a nervous jolt in his chair. It’s a subject he’s not too comfortable discussing:
“My songs aren’t observations of things that are going on outside my own world so they’re quite difficult to talk about,” he bashfully explains. “I write these songs for me, not for anyone else so that’s probably why. With Coloured Walls, I kind of never really believed it could be a song, it came together over a couple of years, different bits at a time. At one point I was particularly thin on the ground for friends, so it comes from a difficult place. I don’t want to sound too negative, I’ve had a comfortable life.”
Woodford has got an intense style of play and is not necessarily on the easy listening side of folk, there’s a mould that has to be broken to see what shimmers gently beneath, much like a book that’s difficult to break into, but once you have you don’t want to turn the final page because then it’ll all be over. Immediacy isn’t something that seems to worry the Yorkshire born songwriter though:
“I’m not really in it for any kind of commercial success, I would rather make one perfect album, something that could have a lasting and influential effect, then I would be a happy man.”
As we talk more it’s clear to see that Woodford has a real love affair with music and talks of Bert Jansch, John Martin and Nick Drake, who are all clear to see in his own songs. Of more recent times Woodford has looked to Fionn Regan and Johnny Flynn:
“They’ve got this cutsie, boyish thing going on; it’s quite far away from what I’m doing but similar in many ways, maybe they kind of make folk cool again,” he muses but as we approach the subject of Simon Cowell’s pop empire there’s a moments silence before he replies:
“I don’t really know much about it, I think it kind of encourages kids to aspire to mediocrity when these people are essentially just meaningless puppets being told what to do,” he says, not fiercely but with a blank face, he just doesn’t care.
This is a man that doesn’t associate with mediocrity in any sense of the word and has spent many painstaking hours tweaking sounds and guitars, which at times can be a lonely pursuit:
“I don’t like relying on people too much, that’s why I play on my own I guess,” he explains before he adds: “I know what I want and I know what is right, which is what is frustrating about playing live, some people just don’t care enough, I always want it to be right and I’m very critical of myself in that sense.”
It’s difficult to know where to wrap this one up as Woodford is a one man story machine but as the haunting sound of the final bell rings around the pub we decide to call it a night. Who knows what the coming year holds for this singer/songwriter but as we depart Carl Woodford confides his desire to enter the studio and play a few low key gigs to the people who give a damn...sounds perfect.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Check out Sheffield's new blues outfit, Soldier Blue, on live cultural tv show 'Mind the Gap'. Their debut television appearance comes after a series of recent shows around Sheffield. Mixing blues and rock with an organ spiced perfection, these boys may just be ones to keep an eye over the coming year.