And the great releases keep coming as 2009 draws to a close. Here’s a taste from the new Sleeping States and Espers albums + a track from Iron and Wine’s 2009 collection, Around the Well. Hope these provide the quiet beauty you are looking for this Sunday morning…
Sleeping States – Gardens of the South
Sleeping States main man, Markland Starkie has just released his latest long player, In the Gardens of the North, an album brimming with found sounds, layered harmonies, pensive tension and humming ambience. With Gardens of the South (like with much of the album) Starkie’s voice takes centre stage as it dips and swoons over the top of a sparsely swinging beat. And while the album rarely changes pace, each songs demands your attention, quietly rewarding those who take the ride.
Espers – Sightings
With new album III just released, Espers have continued to stretch the folk genre. There aren’t many bands who can blend the atmosphere of early Black Sabbath with finger picked acoustic guitars, and electronic flourishes, but this is the swirling domain that Espers so fittingly occupy. On Sightings, Meg Baird’s vocals are languid and bewitching, providing an ethereal light to the swelling rhythms of the band. And there is just the right amount of blissful fuzz sitting in the background…
Iron and Wine – The Trapeze Swinger
Sam Beam knows the hypnotic power of a simple chord progression and he uses it to perfection here on The Trapeze Swinger. Add to that a stomping rhythm, blissful melody and vivid imagery and you have yourself a song that will stick with you long after the record has stopped spinning.
Right now, the Spring sky is as wide open as the weekend. And as always, I’m colouring my Saturday morning with a burst of that new folk sound. Hope it paints your sky as big as you like…
Ten Paces Away – The Gin Club
The belting first single from Brisbane’s folk/country/rock collective The Gin Club’s last album Junk. These guys are something to see live, with four (or is it five?) vocalists/lyricists, leading the band through country rave ups, folk ballads and staright up rock ‘n’ roll. Personally, I love it when Ben Salter (also of Giants of Science & Wilson Pickers fame) takes the wheel as he does here on Ten Paces Away. He is without a doubt, one of Brisbane’s best singer/songwriters. You can catch them live at The Zoo in Brisbane on November 27!
Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
Drawing on the long history of hillbilly, bluegrass, folk & country, Old Crow Medicine Show, have gone from busking on street corners to playing sold out shows with the likes of Merle Haggard, The Felice Brothers & Dolly Parton. They are one of those bands that makes you want to drink good whiskey and sing loud… ‘rock me mama like a wagon wheel…’
Lover of the Bayou – Mudcrutch
This is Tom Petty’s pre-heartbreaker band and man do they rock. Their debut album from last year (that’s right… it took em over thirty years to get around to making it) is raw and filled with some of the best guitar playing you will ever hear. And just check these lyrics…
‘I was raised and swam with the crocodile/snake eyes taught me the mojo style/suckled and weaned on chicken bile/I’m the lover of the bayou’
Tom has always been the master of southern-fried rock and this rave up of The Byrds classic is up there with his best.
Well to tell the truth, these folk have been putting out great music for the last decade or so (in Lloyd’s case the last three and a bit). But not one of these artists is trading on nostalgia and for me that is one of the things that is crucial to longevity. So here’s my soundtrack to this perfect Saturday morning… Sparklehorse, Lloyd Cole & Gareth Liddiard (The Drones), I hope it helps brighten yours.
Home Coming Queen – Sparklehorse
This is from the first Sparklehorse album, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. Sparklehorse mainman, Mark Linkous has been described as defiantly surreal. And like the surrealist shapeshifter, his work has defied genre and boundary. Most recently, Linkous teamed up with renowned DJ, Dangermouse and dark master of film, David Lynch for the Dark Night of the Soul project. Just love the warmth of this song…
Late Night, Early Town – Lloyd Cole
Most people hear the name Lloyd Cole and expect to hear and the Commotions in the same breath, but the truth is, Lloyd has released a string of brilliant solo albums since the Commotions days ended in the late 80’s. This song is taken from the ridiculously underrated 2003 album, Music in a Foreign Language. And it provides a great taste of things to come, as Lloyd makes his way to Australia in November for a show at The Powerhouse on November 7. I have my ticket… what about you?
Sharkfin Blues – Gareth Liddiard (The Drones)
Known more for their cathartic blues rave ups, this stripped back version of Shark Fin Blues from the sublimely titled 2005 album, Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By, highlights the beautiful menace of this song… They’re coming fin by fin until the whole boat sinks. Beautiful stuff!
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.
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.
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.
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.