Tag Archives: The New Folk

Saturday Afternoon Mix Tape – The New Folk XVII

Spring is well and truly here (well in Brisbane anyway)… the still crisp air prickles the skin while  the sun gently warms; and the sky’s endless acres of blue stretch out over lush green and vibrant azalea blossoms. And that’s just the view from my front window.

Afternoon’s like this pull you softly into the arms of evening… so as you go on your way, here’s a few songs that have been spinning rapidly in my world. I think they make pretty good company.

Clogs – Last Song

Clogs are a genre-defying blend of classical music and traditional / indie folk. Circling around the collaboration between Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner from The National, Clogs create profound, otherworldly music that has the strange ability to inhabit your being long after the album has ceased. Last Song comes from their epic 2010 release,  The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton and features The National’s Matt Berninger delivering a vocal that rival’s Cohen for melancholic minimalism.

 

Doveman – Breathing Out

Thomas Bartlett is the artistic vision behind Doveman and his latest opus, The Conformist, is a creative peak of sorts. It is a lush, quietly propulsive album featuring members of The National (all of them in fact at some stage) and while the surface may seem shiny, there are great depths to explore here. Bartlett’s melodic whisper of a voice slips takes you from one hushed moment to another, seducing you with lyrics that slip unknowingly into your mind to reveal a sharper edge. ‘The darkness tells me that I’ve waited long enough…’ Indeed!

 

Peter Wolf Crier – Hard as Nails

Peter Wolf Crier’s debut album Inter-Be has a peculiar urgency about it, each song stretching beyond the limits of guitars and percussion, to create some wide-open spaces. Pisano’s vocals loop, wail and crescendo in a gorgeous mess, as Hard as Nails comes to a close. There are definitely hints of Jagjaguar labelmate Bon Iver’s haunted balladry here, but Peter Wolf Crier manage to maintain a sense of exuberance throughout… even when the lyrics descend into bleaker, more visceral places.

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Softly, Softly…

                                                           or The New Folk XVI

I am anticipating some unique live music moments in the week ahead… First up, I dive into the deep sonic waters of Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka The Sight Below).

Irisarri’s work has been described as, meditations on suspended momentum and the opacity of perception (Big Shot). His evocative soundscapes and ambient pop epics, encompass the big emotions… longing, sorrow, bliss, while drawing the listener below the surface to look up at the storm of sounds shimmering above. Composers like Irisarri don’t visit these parts too often, so I too, am shimmering with excitement at the prospect of seeing him cast his sonic spell this Thursday night (August 19) at The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. This haunting composition – Watching As She Reels – is from the Limited Edition 7″ EP, Hopes and Past Desires.

 

Then I lay my head down on the soft downy sounds of The Stress of Leisure as they take over The Zoo this Friday evening (August 20). Their third album, Soft Approach, has been on high rotation this past month, so I am looking forward to hearing the band rip through some of my favourites – The Boy’s Got Issues, Somewhere in the Afternoon and In the Movie Where He Dies of a Mystery Illness at the End. While the gig is being touted as ‘Soft’, including free hand massages on the night, The Stress of Leisure can rock pretty hard. For proof, check out the clip for Death on the Magic Mile.

 

Ah yes, softly, softly, the week unfurls…

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The New Folk XV – Winter Sounds

This Lost Shark is moving slowly today… winter sun, lapping between my shoulder blades and the gentlest of breezes prickling my neck. Sunday’s don’t come much better, and today’s soundtrack comes courtesy of two fine Australian bands and one from the windy city of Chicago. Lose your self in these sounds… let your day find its own pace.

E-Song – Nikko

Brisbane band, Nikko have just released their much anticipated debut, The Warm Side. It is a brooding, densely crafted song cycle that seeps further into your consciousness with each listen. The band swings moodily across the nine songs, creating sonic peaks and troughs for singer/guitarist Ryan Potter to climb in and out of with his sparse lyricism. The Warm Side is a mature, intelligent debut, one that combines tension and tenderness, and leaves you with a feeling of discovery. While E-Song is not from the debut, I couldn’t resist posting this collaboration – Killing Time – with filmmaker Oliver Lofgren.

II – Fabulous Diamonds

Reverberated percussion, dubby-synths, isolated vocals, ghostly saxophone, this is the sonic terrain inhabited by Melbourne duo, Fabulous Diamonds. Their recent release II, is nothing short of hypnotic, blending extended, repetitive jams with shorter, surreal pop songs. This clip captures Fabulous Diamonds onstage creating a mesmerising soundscape that takes the boundary of pop music and unrelentingly stretches it.

Red Ants – Sonoi

Hailing from Chicago, sonoi are another band that are challenging the pop stereotype, with their warmly composed instrumentals, ambient collages and off-kilter rock. Red Ants opens their debut album and is one of the tracks that comes close to combining all of their styles. It is dreamlike in its construction, the melodic guitar line, floating keys and pulsing drum rhythms providing the perfect bed for Adam Busch’s heady vocals. Other highlights on the album are the perfectly crafted angular rock of Sherry Fall and the ambitious and album changing Anchor Tattoo.

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The New Folk XIV – Got That Mojo Workin’…

There are some great new releases ready to drop in the next couple of weeks. This Lost Shark is particularly excited about the new album from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo. This is the first new album from Petty with The Heartbreakers since 2002’s The Last DJ, so there is a great deal of anticipation. Here’s a taste of what to expect as well as a couple of other songs to ease you in to your Saturday night.

I Should Have Known It – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Petty is one of those artists who is truly timeless. He has been knocking out classic songs for over three decades and has a sound that is completely his own. Back with The Heartbreakers, Petty is scintillating. The band sound (and look) energised, Mike Campbell’s is at his blinding best; the rhythm section of  Ron Blair & Steve Ferrone are air tight; Scott Thurston chugs away in the background and Benmont Tench… well, he is without a doubt, one of the best piano/keys men going around. I Should Have Known It is common territory for Petty & The Heartbreakers. Tom has written some incredible songs of rejection/lost love over the years and this is up there with his best. When Petty snarls into the mic, ‘It’s the last time you’re gonna hurt me’, rejection never sounded so good. Mojo is out on June 15.

Cocaine and Ashes – Son Volt

‘I’ve had strychnine, I thought I was dead / I snorted my father and I’m still alive / I did it because that’s how it’s done / I’m the same as everyone, just kinda lucky’

So starts Cocaine and Ashes, the opening track from Son Volt’s forthcoming album, American Central Dust. The song pays homage to ‘the human riff’, Keith Richards, who once claimed to have snorted his father’s ashes (later denying it). The sound here is sleepy, at times desperate… Gone are the more raucous guitar sounds of Farrar’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo, but found is the graceful playing of newcomer Mark Spencer (piano, pedal steel). I hope this new line up has a few albums in them, as American Central Dust, has the lazy brilliance and raw confidence that we have come to expect from Farrar & co.

Destroyer of the Void – Blitzen Trapper

Destroyer of the Void blends sweet country, pop and psychedelia in epic proportions. It is an ambitious song to open an album, but where would we be without ambition? Destroyer tips its hat to The Beatles, Queen, Dylan with The Band and countless others, while remaining completely original. It is great to see the band re-expanding their sonic scope after the focussed folk-rock of previous album Furr. Don’t get me wrong… I love their acoustic narratives but the space rock of Destroyer opens up the astral plane and demands further exploration.

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The New Folk pt X

Sunday is shedding its light, but never fear… this handful of songs are perfect for the approaching darkness. They have been shining their light in my world of late and it has been brighter for it. Enjoy the last hours of your weekend…

Worst Friend – Vic Chesnutt

At the Cut has been on high rotation for this Lost Shark in 2010, so I was thrilled when I finally got my hands on a copy of Vic’s other album from 2009, Skitter On Take Off, recorded live in the studio with Jonathan Richman. This is classic Chesnutt… no overdubs, just the man, his beaten acoustic guitar and some very minimal backing. Lyrically Chesnutt seems to tap the global psyche, writing songs that make you stop and wonder, was that written for me? Worst Friend is one of those songs. I don’t think there is anyone alive that couldn’t put a name to at least one of the friend’s Chesnutt sings about… and the Wheel of Fortune guy sounds hilarious!

Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent pts I & II – The Besnard Lakes

Montreal ensemble, The Besnard Lakes have created another epic album – Are The Roaring Night – that rolls out of your stereo, like a driving wave. Part I slowly builds until Jace Lasek’s falsetto erupts over peaks of psychedelic guitar swirls and rumbling percussion. Rather than be constrained by the convention of a song, The Besnard Lakes create sonic landscapes of tension and beauty. Close your eyes for this one and let yourself be plunged headlong into the roaring night.

King of Spain – The Tallest Man on Earth

Scandanavian folksinger, Kristian Matsson has followed up his 2008 debut Shallow Grave with The Wild Hunt, an effortless album of raspy vocals and crackling acoustic guitar. And while there is nothing new about this sound, The Tallest Man On Earth does it better than most. He has tapped the roots of American music to write an album of earnest, front porch poetry that will have you smiling before the first four bars have rolled.

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The New Folk IX – The Necks, Shearwater & Turin Brakes

It’s hard to believe that the third month of 2010 is already on us… so here’s a few songs to suspend (your) reality for a while and slow things down. Open your mind to the hypnotic-improvisation of The Necks; sink into the depths of Shearwater and fill your lungs with the sweet folk of Turin Brakes. May your week roll slower for it.

 

The Necks – Kilt Maker

The Necks live is an experience that changes the way you approach music in a live setting. Seeing Buck, Swanton and Abrahams take the stage in silence, waiting for an idea to propel them forward is truly inspirational. With each live set, truly being a one off, you know as an audience member you have been part of a unique creative experience. And while this does not harness the power of seeing them live, it certainly captures their hypnotic effect.

 

Shearwater – Meridian

Shearwater make music that demands something of the listener. The swirling multi-instrumental arrangements and Jonathan Meiburg’s swooning vocal work best in that late night kind of silence, when it is just you and the geckos. Meridian is from their latest opus, The Golden Archipelago, an album of songs inspired by recollections of Meiburg’s own journeys; the fragility of nature and our eroding culture. These songs have a haunting clarity about them and warrant multiple listens.

 

Turin Brakes – Sea Change

Sea Change is likely to be one of the sweetest slices of folk  you will hear in 2010. Driving acoustic guitars lay the bed for kick drum, vocal harmonies and strings and together they create a gentle epic. The song has at its heart a quiet defiance, promising things must be different, that standing still is no longer an option. Vibrant and layered, Turin Brakes continue to surprise.

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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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