Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Changing Seasons #1: The River and the Road - Old Ben

Vancouver based Americana outfit The River and the Road are a band I've been keeping my eye on ever since hearing their gorgeous debut album The River and the Road back in 2012 (read my full review here)

Fresh from touring Australia, the guys have announced a six part video feature entitled 'Changing Seasons Series', which will be released over the coming months. Filmed back in their native Vancouver in the autumn of 2012, they sharing beautiful live recordings of a selection of choice tracks from their self-titled LP. The first one released today was the banjo driven, ode-to-vices, Old Ben.


Monday, 28 January 2013

Wake Owl - The Wild Country

Today marks the release of beautiful and bleak The Wild Country EP from Vancouver based band Wake Owl. This exceptional four-piece, led by the distinctive vocal talents of Colyn have created an EP rich in honest and raw indie folk.

Building upon this release, the band are currently touring across the US. Pairing this with their recent signing to Vagrant Records (PJ Harvey, City and Colour, The Hold Steady), this is could be the start of a band at the start of their rise to the top.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Track of the Day: The White Album - Seasons End

Today's TOTD comes courtesy of Danish indie-folk trio The White Album, who have unveiled the video for their gorgeous track 'Seasons End', which featured on their 'Conquistador' EP released last year.

The haunting video, filmed in a deserted theme park near Copenhagen, mirrors the song's melancholic themes with startling beauty. Though just as there is sadness, there are also moments of warmth, as the video's character shows a man wondering the park and imagining it coming to life.

The band are currently recording their debut album in a cabin outside Copenhagen; so hopefully we can expect more stripped down artistry from The White Album soon.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Track of the Day: Sivu - Better Man Than He

I heard 'Better Man Than He' for the first time a few days ago on John Kennedy's Xposure show, and was immediately taken aback by its its catchy melodic hook and refreshingly honest lyrics. After a bit of searching, I discovered it was the work of Icelandic born singer-songwriter Sivu. What followed has been several days of listening to the below track on an almost continuous loop. Though he doesn't have much of an online presence as yet I don't appear to have been the only one to have been affected by his music, with the track gaining play with DJ's on Radio 1 and 2.

The single will be officially released on February 25th with an EP to follow in May. In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy three minutes and nineteen seconds of gorgeous indie-pop.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Top 30 Albums of 2012

So, 2012 wasn't the most successful of years for this blog. I was so caught up in travelling Canada and moving to London (as well as my usual excuse of just being plain lazy) that I only returned here for a handful of posts. Well, that was 2012..... this is 2013. If there's one thing I've learnt about January it is that to counteract the misery of short days, gained holiday weight, damaged livers and embarrassing Christmas parties mistakes, we take this time to put all this self-loathing to good use and state our best intentions for the year to come. So in that vein, I will do more posting in 2013.

Well, despite the fact that the blog was quiet in 2012, it certainly wasn't a quiet one for music in general; with some truly remarkable records released this year. Below I've narrowed it down to my top 30. Now, just remember, these are just my choices and I'm well aware that everyone's got their own favorites which will differ to some extent from the records I've selected here. So please, sit back, take a deep breath, and remember the important things in life before getting aggravated by anything as petty as a music list. 

Anyway, I hope you find something new in here which you come to love.

30. The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
29. Great Lake Swimmers – New Wild Everywhere
28. Ben Gibbard – Former Lives
27. Lucy Rose – Like I Used To
26. Mumford and Sons – Babel
25. Band of Horses – Mirage Rock
24. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
23. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
22. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
21. The Wooden Sky – Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun
20. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
19. Bob Dylan – Tempest
18. The Shins – Port of Morrow
17. Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself
16. The Lumineers – The Lumineers
15. Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts in Snow
14. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
13. Tall Ships – Everything Touching
12. Meursault - Something For The Weakened
11. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
10. Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth
9.   The River and the Road – The River and the Road
8.   Bro. Stephen – Baptist Girls
7.   Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
6.   Shearwater – Animal Joy

5. Lone Wolf – The Lovers

The Lovers is the album that nearly never was. Following a split with former label Bella Union, Marshall aka Lone Wolf put his future in the hand of his fans with a crowd funding platform, and they were in turn rewarded with one of the finest albums of the year. Genre spanning, innovative and incredibly well constructed. Read my full review here

Essential ListenGood Life

4. We Are Augustines – Rise Ye Sunken Ships 

Much like its name suggests, Rise Ye Sunken Ships rose out of choppy waters (or in reality, internal turmoil and breakdown of former band Pela). Deciding to overcome these struggles, We Are Augustines crafted an album of gut wrenching honesty, whilst staying true to their Brooklyn rock routes. They are also the winners of my favourite live show of 2012 with their incredibly energetic and buoyant performance at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in October.

Essential ListenJuarez

3. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar 

One of the first hype bands of 2012 and for once the hype was right on the money. The two sisters from Sweden produced an album of pure, ethereal folk music. In tracks like The Lion’s Roar, Emmylou, In the Hearts of Men, Blue and King of the World, First Aid Kit created music which is absolutely timeless in its composition. I was clearly not alone in my opinions either, with the The Lion’s Roar receiving critical acclaim from The Guardian, The BBC and Pitchfork. 

Essential ListenEmmylou

2. Dry the River – Shallow Bed

Dry the River gained a sizable reputation in 2011 for their stand out live shows, so this London-based five-piece had a lot to live up to with their debut album Shallow Bed. Well, live up to it they did. Demonstrating their incredible, atmospheric blend of Folk Rock the band absolutely raised the bar of what was expected from this already saturated genre. Rounded off with intricate musicianship and Liddle’s soaring dulcet tones, Shallow Bed was one of those albums which had me gripped from start to finish.

Essential ListenBible Belt

1. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

I remember the first time I heard ‘Breezeblocks’ on BBC 6 music, I was blown away with its inventive sound and off-kilter rhythm. I scrabbled frantically to make a note of the band name.... Alt-J. Well, I was to hearing a lot more of them before the year was out. Regardless of the inevitable hipster backlash which followed their rise to prominence and Mercury Prize win, Alt-J were the best band to emerge in 2012, and in An Awesome Wave they produced what is without doubt one of the finest debut albums in recent years. Truly unique and inventive. 

                   Essential ListenFitzpleasure