Tag Archives: folk music

The New Folk VI

 Well, this may possibly be my last post until December 29, as I am jetting off to Tasmanian waters for a few days and may not get near enough to a computer to make an update… so to sign off on what has been an amazing year, here’s a handful of songs to soundtrack these glorious summer days. To all of the people who have read this blog – whether you be a regular, a sporadic visitor, or a fly-by-nighter – thank you. I am already looking forward to an exciting 2010 as there are many projects bubbling away. Big love to you all…

Orenda Fink: That Certain-Something Spring

Orenda Fink’s sophomore solo album blends her love of traditional American folk music and Gothic literature. Recorded live in a basement and a lounge room , the album has that wistful melancholoy that has become the trademark of quality home produced folk. Orenda’s thick as honey voice sails in and out of the mandolin, accordion and saw that give this album a southern tinge. The perfect music to slow time… most definitely an album to curl up with.

 

Port O’Brien: My Will Is Good

Taken from their third longplayer, Threadbare, this showcases a stripped back sound for Port O’Brien. The album swells like a lung full of salt air, not surprising given Van Pierszalowski spends much of his year working on a salmon fishing boat. This album is making lots of the Best of 2009 lists, and for good reason. It is elegant in its simplicity, dramatic in its craft and brings a pop sensibilty to the folk tradition.

 

Vic Chestnutt – Coward

Lyrically, there are few singer/songwriters with the literary prowess of Vic Chestnutt and he doesn’t disappoint on his latest release, At The Cut. Released earlier in the year, At The Cut sees Vic team up for the second time with members of Montreal collectives, A Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi. Its a darkly explosive combination, blending Chestnutt’s distinctively simple vocals and guitar playing style with the often mesmeric wail of strings and guitars that Godspeed and Silver Mt. Zion have made their own.

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More sounds from the New Folk

Well, morning has passed me by but as always the day has been soundtracked by some new folk sounds… Here’s a snapshot of what has been entering my ears of late. Plenty here to get those Saturday morning feet a stomping! Enjoy and don’t forget to drop your LitRock suggestions into my previous post… I plan to post some of your suggestions real soon.

 

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Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons

This a sweet slab of new British folk from four young men with names that were begging for them to come together and make music. Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett, and Ted Dwane marry gutsy, old-time folk with their love of bluegrass and country. And on Little Lion Man, they capture the live fire that they are becoming renowned for. let’s hope they hit these shores soon… Their debut album Sigh No More is out now.

 

 

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Soul of a Man – Rambling Jack Elliott

Rambling Jack Elliott is one of the final links to the old American folk tradition. As Johnny Cash once said, nobody has covered more ground and made more friends and sung more songs than Rambling Jack. And in the tradition of the folk troubadour, he has just released a new album of Depression Era blues songs to pay homage to a handful of the songs that have fed him over the years. This track, originally penned by Blind Willie Johnson, is a song that haunts me every time I hear it. The lyric, I’m going to ask the question, answer if you can/ If anybody here can tell me, what is the soul of a man?  cuts straight through me and Rambling Jack has the life-weary voice to deleiver it with conviction.

 

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The Wrong Road – Steve Kilbey

Originally recorded for one of the tribute albums to the late great GW McLennan (although it sadly never made it on to the finished album), this is Kilbey at his stripped back best, capturing the elegance of McLennan’s lyric. This song is a major contender for the LitRock list that I was talking about recently too, with Grant superbly name-checking Dickens: 

Started out Oliver, ended up Fagin/ Don’t you worry, it’s my problem

It still hurts that there will be no new McLennan songs…

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Take a ride… the sounds of Kerouac, Cohen & Bon Iver

As the clouds roll in and the humidity continues to rise, dip your toes into the sounds of these new folk sounds. Take a ride to the rugged coast of Kerouac’s Big Sur with the Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard; be mesmerised by the messianic tones of Cohen as he tames the crowd at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and rug up in the snow storm of Bon Iver’s Blood Bank. You won’t regret it…

 

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Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard – Big Sur

Taken from the soundtrack to the new Kerouac film, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, this is a sweet slice of folk from the pages of Big Sur. And while Kerouac was more of a jazz man, I can see him driving along some mid-west highway, arm out the window, nodding approvingly. There is an ache in both Farrar & Gibbard’s voice that lends an authenticity to Kerouac’s words and the arrangements distill Kerouac’s bummed-out prose beautifully.

 

 

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Leonard Cohen – Suzanne

Forty summers ago, Cohen stepped on stage at the Isle of Wight festival. His set followed Jimi Hendrix (touted as one of the best of Hendrix’s career) and the audience was close to rioting. Standing in the centre of what had become a political maelstrom, Cohen looking like a ragged messiah, stood undaunted and delivered a set of songs and poems that brought the crowd to a stand still. For the first time, this set has now been released along with DVD footage of the concert and a documentary by Murray Lerner. After his mesmerising tour earlier this year, this is on the must have list.

 

 

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Bon Iver – Blood Bank

After the release of the much lauded For Emma, Forever Ago, many wondered whether Bon Iver mainmain, Justin Vernon would be able to capture the beauty of his lovelorn debut. Blood Bank puts all those doubts to rest… The warmth of Vernon’s voice sits somewhere in the chest cavity and reverberates, longingly. Images of stacked up cups of blood, snow storms and secrets that fuck with your honour are pieced together to create a song that sweeps you away. Breaking up has never sounded so good…

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The New Folk

I am loving the new folk/country sound that is currently being embraced by so many bands, both old and new. Here’s a taste of some new sounds from some of the artists who are making waves in this Lost Shark’s world.

 

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One More American Song – The Duke and the King

Another slice of brilliance from the super talented Simone Felice. Felice toured as a poet for over a decade and has penned two novels alongside his songwriting credits for The Felice Brothers and now The Duke and the King, and his work as a writer is evident here… this is lyrically superb. This is from their debut album Nothing Gold Can Stay.

 

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The First Days of Spring – Noah and the Whale

Charlie Fink is a man with a broken heart. This fact is not hidden in any way shape or form on the album The First Days of Spring. Fink has also turned his talents to producing a film of the same name. This may well earn a place as one of the great breakup albums of all time… lovelorn and luxurious.

 

Richmond+Fontaine

You Can Move Back Here – Richmond Fontaine

This track is from this Oregon quartet’s supremely titled eighth long player, ‘We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River’. Singer/songwriter, Willy Vlautin, is another man with two novels under his belt (Motel Life and Northlines). Vlautin’s literary musings combined with the bands sonic palette have produced some breathtaking songs during their career… can’t wait for this album to hit our shores.

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